Morgan Park has an equal-opportunity offense designed to maximize individual talent. Charlie Moore stepped into the void at a crucial time.
The junior point guard drilled five 3-pointers and scored 17 of his game-high 31 points in the second half as the host No. 5 Mustangs survived Normal U-High 60-58 on Saturday night.
“In doubt, I can always count on Charlie Moore,” Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said. “He’s relentless and he always answers the bell.
“He carried us tonight.”
Moore shot 11-for-19 from the field to produce his best individual scoring outburst since his 49-point game in the Mustangs’ season opener. He also contributed four rebounds, three steals and an assist. Morgan Park needed every point as the Pioneers (7-7) nearly stunned the Mustangs.
U-High’s Jack Martin hit a 35-footer, but it was ruled after the buzzer as Morgan Park nearly squandered a seven-point, fourth-quarter advantage by going 2-for-7 from the free-throw line in the final minute.
Moore opened the game by nailing two long distance 3-pointers that fueled his confidence. “After I saw those first two go in it just felt like the basket was opened up,” he said. “After that I just kept shooting and played with my team.”
In their first game since winning the Carbondale Holiday Tournament, the Mustangs (9-3) struggled against the Pioneers’ 1-2-2 and 2-3 zone defenses. Marcus LoVett was quiet, scoring just seven points — all in the first half.
Junior guard Jarrin Randall also was limited to just seven points.
“We didn’t come out with the kind of energy we wanted to,” Moore said. “I know that every game you’re not going to have a big game, so I knew I had to pick it up and bring out the win for the team.”
U-High led by as many as six points twice in the second quarter and held a 32-28 lead at the break. The Mustangs got untracked in the third quarter as Moore nailed a 3-pointer and scored on a three-point play during a 12-1 run that led to a 47-40 advantage.
U-High refused to wilt and rallied with its own 7-0 run. Moore again was the difference. His 3-pointer broke the game’s final tie and ignited another Mustangs push. Junior post player Alonzo Chatman contributed nine points and nine rebounds for the Mustangs.
“Just teamwork and sharing the ball,” Chatman said of the team’s improved second-half performance. “We took a couple of quick shots in the first half and we did a better job moving the ball around.
“We got it together toward the end”
Sam Mack added two crucial free throws with 43 seconds remaining. Guard Kyler Ummel hit three 3-pointers and scored a team-best 16 points for the Pioneers. McLain Engel added 11 points.