Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin has nothing but respect and admiration for Class 3A semifinal opponent Orr.
First, Irvin is good friends with Orr coach Lou Adams.
“I love Lou,” Irvin said. “That’s my guy.”
Irvin also is impressed by how the Spartans have rallied around Tyquone Greer, the Orr senior who was shot in the leg a few weeks ago. Instead of allowing the tragedy to dictate its season, Orr not only has overcome, it’s persevered.
“I take my hat off to Orr,” Irvin said. “They could have easily chucked it in after what had happened to (Tyquone). But it rallied them together.”
In something out of a Hollywood script, Greer hit a game-winning three-pointer in Tuesday’s supersectional to lift Orr to a 71-68 win over North Chicago.
It’s a feel-good story, for certain.
But that’s where Irvin hopes the good times end for the Spartans.
Morgan Park (21-6) and Orr (25-4), two Public School League powerhouses, will square off at 2 p.m. Friday at Peoria’s Carver Arena. The winner advances to the 3A finals Saturday against the survivor of the other semifinal between Rockford Lutheran (30-3) and Lincoln (33-2).
“I hope their (Orr) Cinderella story stops against us,” Irvin said with a laugh. “But I know it’s going to be a dogfight. It doesn’t get any better than this. Neither team wants to lose to the other.”
Morgan Park is seeking its second straight 3A title. Orr joined the Mustangs in the Final Four last season, but suffered a 56-54 semifinal loss to Cahokia and a 58-49 third-place defeat to Limestone.
The Mustangs and Spartans boast similar playing styles. Both prefer to play uptempo, which should equate to an abundance of scoring and excitement. Morgan Park has five players averaging double figures in scoring, led by 6-foot-8 Josh Cunningham (22.1), 6-5 Lamont Walker (17.8), point guard Charlie Moore (14.8), 6-4 Torry Johnson (13.8) and 6-4 Kain Harris (13.7). Orr also has to deal with the menacing inside presence of Morgan Park’s 7-foot Lamous Brown.
Irvin expects Orr to follow the game plan of past opponents and try to pressure the Mustangs guards.
“Teams are pressuring us,” Irvin said. “For some reason they don’t think Charlie can handle it. If they want to pressure us, I say bring it.”
While not as deep, Orr has serious threats in Greer (17.5), Marlon Jones (15.9), Lou Adams (13.6) and Sire Carroll (7.9). The Spartans also have some size: Jones stands 6-8, Greer and Carroll are 6-7 and Adams is 6-3.
“They’re an all-around good team,” Irvin said. “Little Lou (Adams) is very explosive.”
Morgan Park had to overcome major challenges from Hillcrest in the regional final and Bogan in the supersectional to advance. Irvin is confident those experiences will prove beneficial Friday.
“We had a tough road,” Irvin said. “We had to persevere and fight for everything we accomplished to get here. It’s helped us stay positive and stay as one.”