Morgan Park sharpshooter Cam Irvin was ice cold on Friday. Curie’s zone defense was forcing the Mustangs into three-point shots and the usual zone-breaker was having a rough night.
So the freshman stepped into the spotlight.
Morgan Park freshman Nimari Burnett drained three three-pointers in the fourth quarter to lead the No. 4 Mustangs to a 53-46 comeback win against No. 2 Curie the Public League Tournament semifinals at Chicago State.
“I’m not afraid of clutch moments,” Burnett said. “I just pushed myself to do what I have to do to help the team win.”
Those were the only nine points Burnett scored in the game. Irvin was 1 for 10 from three-point range.
“Nimari has been playing big league basketball since he was in fourth grade,” Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said. “He going to be an NBA superstar. He sees the moment, he loves the moment.
Ayo Dosunmu led Morgan Park (19-4) with 15 points and five rebounds. The Mustangs only turned the ball over five times.
“Ayo is a point guard,” Irvin said. “He’s different from Billy Garrett, Charlie Moore, Marcus LoVett. He’s a pass first point guard. He knows how to pick people apart.”
Melo Burrell scored 13 and grabbed seven rebounds. Curie led 39-31 with 1:21 to play in the third quarter. The Condors went nearly seven minutes without scoring.
Terry Smith Jr. led Curie (23-3) with 13 points and eight rebounds. Elijah Joiner, Curie’s leading scorer, was held to eight points and Allante Pickens was scoreless.
“I put [Cam Irvin] on Pickens and the best defensive player in the state, [Lamond Johnson] on Joiner,” Irvin said. “They can’t score on them, I knew that coming in.”
Morgan Park will face Red-South rival Simeon in the title game on Sunday. The No. 5 Wolverines beat No. 3 Young 60-49 in the first semifinal.
Junior Messiah Jones led Simeon (23-2) with 21 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Junior Javon Freeman scored 26 for the Dolphins (22-3).
Simeon and Morgan Park have never played each other in the city title game before. Both teams play on Saturday in the City/Suburban Showdown at Robert Morris. Simeon faces Evanston, Morgan Park plays Stevenson.
“It’s definitely going to change my approach [against Stevenson],” Irvin said. “I have a city championship to win. Sunday is going to be an interesting game. The Battle of Vincennes. I can’t wait for it.”