PEORIA—Chase Adams tried desperately to hang on to his huge smile after leading Orr to a second consecutive Class 2A state championship on Saturday at Carver Arena.
But his emotions took over and the tears came as he pointed to the sky and dedicated his season to his older brother Drake, who died in 2015. Adams had difficulty focusing on basketball the first two years after his brother’s death. Things turned around this season and Adams became one of the best guards in the state.
“This senior year was amazing, it was all for my brother, all for my brother,” Adams said.
Orr beat Winnebago 76-49. Adams’ ballhawking ability changed the momentum of the game late in the third quarter. The Indians led 35-34 when Adams and the Spartans turned on the defensive pressure and went on a 14-0 run to take control of the game.
Adams, who is just 5-8, was a grade school superstar. He spent his first three years of high school playing at Marian Catholic before transferring to Orr this summer. His arrival changed the dynamic of the season for the Spartans.
“Chase kept telling us to help him get a title,” Orr senior Brian Hernandez said. “He had a chip on his shoulder and that put a chip on our shoulder to help him get one.”
Dannie Smith led the Spartans (30-4) with 22 points and seven rebounds and Adams finished with 17 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals.
“[Winnebago] got used to us in the second quarter but we turned up the pressure and forced turnovers,” Smith said. “I’m speechless, I’m proud of the guys and the coaching staff. When I came to Orr I never thought this would happen.”
The Spartans used 10 players when the game’s outcome was still in doubt. Bench players Michael Taylor and Terry Williams stepped up and made crucial plays.
“Tonight was very emotional for us,” Or coach Lou Adams said. “We played a pretty good basketball team tonight. We have a bunch of seniors and they got the job done. It’s been a hard, long road but we did it.”
Senior Raekwon Drake scored eight and grabbed six rebounds. Ty Mosley scored seven and grabbed nine rebounds. The Spartans took full advantage of their size and athleticism, out-rebounding Winnebago 52-35.
“Tonight we struggled for a minute,” Adams said. “But Dannie Smith is one of the best players in the city of Chicago and he put us on our back there at the end. We are a pretty good basketball team, it doesn’t matter what class we are in.”
Orr won its first basketball state title last year, that was the school’s first state championship in any sport.
“It’s unbelievable to be standing here,” Orr senior Brian Hernandez said. “I thought maybe we would win one, but I never imagined we would win two.”
Andrew Morrissey, a 6-9 senior, led Winnebago (30-3) with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Ty Waller added 12 points.
The Indians have lost small school state title games to Orr, Hales and Leo over the past 14 years.