PEORIA — Orr has never been a basketball powerhouse and was unlikely to ever become one. The school sits just one mile west of two of the state’s historical juggernauts, Marshall and Westinghouse. So when Lou Adams took over in 2012, he was realistic.
“I never thought I’d get to this moment,” Adams said. “I never thought I’d win a state championship. I’m happy, I’m happy.”
The Spartans dominated Mt. Carmel 59-39 in the Class 2A state title game on Saturday at Carver Arena.
Junior forward Raekwon Drake, an All-City and All-Area player, set the tone early. The athletic 6-5 junior blocked shots and drained jumpers as Orr jumped out to a 16-4 lead. Drake finished with 17 points, four rebounds and four blocks.
“I knew they were going to sag off me so I had to have confidence in my shot,” Drake said. “It means a lot, I’m at a loss for words right now.”
Orr (23-5) was clearly the most athletic team in the tournament, but in the title game the Spartans showed their intelligence. They forced the tempo on defense and then settled down and extended possessions on offense to take advantage of their large lead.
“We played pretty good basketball this weekend, this is the smartest we’ve ever played,” Adams said.
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Junior Tyron Mosley threw down three impressive dunks in the second half including a thundering putback and a tomahawk jam after driving down the lane.
Drake and Mosley used their long arms and shot blocking ability to hamper the effectiveness of Mt. Carmel’s two star big men, 6-9 Justin Carpenter and 6-8 Jackson Marcotte.
“Those bigs were better than I thought they would be,” Drake said. “But we had to come home with the win.”
This is Orr’s first state title in any sport.
“Our goal was to win,” Spartans junior Dannie Smith said. “I didn’t know it was going to happen. I didn’t know that until yesterday when they said we could make history. So I wanted to come out and do that, to be the first.”
Smith scored 19 points, dished out seven assists and four steals.
“We figured out that they couldn’t stick us on the perimeter, Smith said. “With me handling the ball I knew the big man couldn’t stick me so I just took my time.”
Orr had been an excellent three-point shooting team throughout the season. They won the title game without relying on that, shooting just 2-for-8 from three-point range.
“I think we’re a good basketball team, a very intelligent team,” Drake said. “We showed we can adjust to the situation.”
Marcotte led the Golden Aces (29-5) with 17 points and six rebounds and Carpenter finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
“We came here to win two games this weekend and we didn’t get it done,” Mt. Carmel coach Tyler Buss said. “But when we look back on this, seeing how a community rallied behind us, it was a special weekend.”
Adams is looking forward to taking the trophy back home. He said it’s for the entire city, not just the west side.
“This means the world to Chicago Public Schools,” Adams said. “It shines a bright light on a good thing. We put in the work. We wanted it because we deserved it.”
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