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Brandon Weston stars in Public League debut, leads Morgan Park past Young in opening night showcase

It lived up to the hype. No. 2 Morgan Park vs. No. 3 Young, the most anticipated opening game in the history of Chicago high school basketball, had it all.

Morgan Park’s Adam Miller (44) works the ball down low as Whitney Young’s Tyler Beard (0) defends.
Morgan Park’s Adam Miller (44) works the ball down low as Whitney Young’s Tyler Beard (0) defends.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

It lived up to the hype.

No. 2 Morgan Park vs. No. 3 Young, the most anticipated opening game in the history of Chicago high school basketball, had it all.

DJ Steward flashed his Duke-bound dominance early. A highly touted transfer, Morgan Park’s Brandon Weston, announced his arrival in the Public League with a standout performance.

Darrin Ames, one of the city’s star freshmen, hit a key three late in the game for the Mustangs.

The spectacle ended with Steward bleeding from the mouth — “Yeah, I’m definitely going to need stitches,” he said — and Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin triumphantly holding what appeared to be a heavyweight boxing title belt over his head after the Mustangs held on for a 61-59 victory at Chicago State.

The belt, like the rest of the event, was sponsored by a shoe company. So it was interesting that Morgan Park star Adam Miller had an issue with his shoes.

“Adam likes fashionable shoes. He is like his coach,” Irvin said. “But they were slipping. I told him to go change his shoes. One thing about Adam, his offense wasn’t going, but he guarded.”

Miller scored nine points. Weston, a senior who started his high school career in Wisconsin and then played at Lake Forest Academy, carried the load for the Mustangs, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

“I’m here to make a statement,” Weston said. “They didn’t let me play last year, so I’m here to show people what I can do.”

Weston’s basket in the post with 1:35 to play provided the winning margin.

“He didn’t even play his best ball,” Irvin said. “He just needs to get his feet wet. He’s going to take the Public League by storm. He’s unstoppable. The Public League is in trouble.”

The final minute was chaotic. Steward had a chance to tie the score on Young’s final possession but hit the floor in the lane and lost the ball.

“I was trying to get to the basket and draw a foul,” Steward said. “That’s how it goes. You aren’t going to get every call, so you have to move on to the next play.”

Steward had 22 points and eight rebounds. He scored or assisted on Young’s first 19 points of the game.

“That was Chicago basketball,” Irvin said. “That is all I can say. Two teams battling from blow to blow. We have two of the best players in the country. They should be McDonald’s All-Americans.”

Isaiah Burrell had 10 points and five rebounds for Morgan Park. Marcus Watson added 10 points and eight rebounds.

“We are more than just one player,” Irvin said. “We are a full team. The X-factor is always going to be Burrell. He was solid down the stretch. It was a good moment for him.”

Senior Tyler Beard had 13 points for Young, and 6-8 junior Grant Newell added eight points and eight rebounds.

“I was loving it, looking up and seeing all the people in the crowd cheering me on, my mom in the crowd,” Weston said. “It was really nice seeing it packed.”

Ames’ three with 2:40 to play clearly sparked the Mustangs.

“I told him if he had a second, just fire away,” Irvin said. “He loves the moment, he isn’t scared of the moment. I told him he reminds me of Charlie Moore. Same thing he did. I believe in my freshmen. I told him to seize the moment and stay aggressive.”