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‘Bright Lights’ Marcus LoVett shines for Morgan Park

This time Marcus LoVett was not going to cede the floor. He was ready to show what the hype was about.

The highly regarded Morgan Park senior guard and California transplant put on a show by scoring 32 points, adding five rebounds, three assists and two steals to lead the No. 3 Mustangs past host Larkin 71-58 in the marquee game of the Mac Irvin Shootout on Saturday night in Elgin.

LoVett scored 13 points in the second quarter on a variety of drives and pull-up jumpers as the Mustangs (2-0) outscored the Royals 22-12 in overcoming a five-point deficit to lead 35-30 at the break. Lovett made a somewhat anticlimatic debut last week as he was scoreless in the Mustangs’ season-opening rout of Urban Prep-Bronzeville.

Junior guard Charlie Moore poured in a career-high 49 points in that game.

“Marcus is an NBA player, he’s a superstar,” Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said. “One thing he did last game, he knew everybody was coming out to watch him play and he let his teammates know it was about Charlie, not about him, and that we’re a team.

“It takes a big man to do that.”

Moore was solid in support with 14 points and four steals. LoVett was the engine that drove the Mustangs’ unorthodox three point-guard attack. Jarrin Randle scored nine points for the Mustangs.

“Today was the day for me to show that, and show that to my teammates what I could do,” LoVett said. “I just tried to do whatever I could to help my team win.”

Larkin (4-3) utilized brilliant outside shooting to hover around the Mustangs and help overcome the early foul trouble of star 6-7 sophomore Christian Negron. The wing forward picked up his second foul with just under two minutes to play in the second quarter. “It didn’t really take away my aggressiveness, because our whole focus was defense and what we had to do to try and stop their offense, especially the guards,” Negron said.

Larkin hit six of its 10 3-pointers in the first half. The Royals converted four 3-pointers in bolting to the 18-13 lead after one quarter. LoVett took charge.

Morgan Park is a two-time defending Class 3A state champion. LoVett said the team has welcomed him, and his outsized personality, what Irvin calls, “Bright Lights.”

“I think my teammates have handled my coming here very well, and they’ve accepted me,” LoVett said. “We’re just trying to build a relatioship and move forward.”

Moore scored on his own putback for the five-point lead at the break. LoVett added seven points in the third quarter as Morgan Park expanded its advantage to 53-40. Reserve guard Jamal Burton was another sparkplug off the bench, scoring eight points, including a floater and a putback in the third quarter.

Morgan Park led by as many as 16 points before Larkin rallied behind the 3-point shooting of guards AJ Hunter (11 points) and Keyvon Kyles (11 points). Hunter hit back-to-back 3-pointers during an 8-0 run that pulled the Royals within 59-51.

Randle responded with two baskets in transition and Moore followed with a three-point play.

“With those three guards they’re very versatile and hard to guard,” Negron said. “They’re probably the best guards in the state on one team, and that makes them very tough to play against.”

Negron scored 15 points and added eight rebounds and two blocked shots for the Royals. Tanner Gardon hit three 3-pointers in scoring nine points for the Royals.

In a night honoring his father’s legacy, Nick Irvin had the last line: “With these three guards, I’d take on the world,” Irvin said. “They’re all a little different. They probably shoot it better than any other group I’ve had and that’s a great luxury to have.”