The winningest high school basketball programs of the decade: No. 2 Morgan Park

The Sun-Times is counting down the 50 high school basketball programs with the most wins during the decade.

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Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin and his team with the Class 3A state championship trophy in 2018.

Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin and his team with the Class 3A state championship trophy in 2018.

Sun-Times file photo

When high school basketball fans think back to the 1980s, programs like Quincy, Providence St. Mel, East St. Louis Lincoln and the arrival of city powers King and Simeon are easy to think back on.

The 1990s brought us memorable basketball giants in Peoria Manual and Thornton, a few steamrolling Proviso East teams and the continued dominance of King.

The first 10 years of the 2000s included Glenbrook North, Peoria High and the beginning of a Simeon juggernaut.

Earlier this year we broke down the decade’s best teams and best players. Now, with every season of the past decade complete, it’s time to look at the Chicago area programs who won the most.

This list is comprised of the 50 winningest programs over the past 10 years, starting with the 2010-11 season and concluding with the 2019-20 season. Every team in every class throughout the Chicago area will be broken down in a variety of ways. But total wins, with winning percentage used as tie-breaker, determined the rankings.

We present No. 2 Morgan Park today and will add one program a day going forward.

2. MORGAN PARK: 257-63

Decade’s biggest storyline: Winning state championships is not supposed to be a foregone conclusion. But when it came to Morgan Park and Class 3A basketball, there were times it felt that way over the past decade. 

There were multiple titles during the decade, but the first one was the biggest one. 

Morgan Park had steadily improved year by year under coach Nick Irvin in leading up to the 2012-13 season. But that team, which featured the brilliant backcourt of Billy Garrett, Jr. and Kyle Davis, was the first of five Morgan Park teams that reached Peoria –– and the first state title for Morgan Park in nearly 40 years. 

That 33-3 team crushed everyone en route to Peoria. The Mustangs won the regional over St. Laurence 86-53. They beat their two sectional foes by a combined 99 points. A 33-point win over Hillcrest in the supersectional sent Morgan Park to the IHSA State Finals. And it was more of the same in Peoria, beating Limestone 70-49 in the state semifinals and handling Cahokia 63-48 in the final. 

Underrated highlight: The state championship won in 2016-17 was arguably the toughest of the four that were won in the decade. It’s often forgotten how Morgan Park, which finished the year 26-6, capped off that grueling championship run. 

Wayne Blackshear shoots.

Wayne Blackshear shoots.

Sun-Times file photo

The Mustangs faced Springfield Lanphier in the state semifinals, losing star Ayo Dosunmu to injury but finding a way to hold off the Lions for a 60-53 win. With Dosunmu sidelined for the final against Fenwick, Morgan Park pulled out an exciting 69-67 win in overtime. It was freshman star Nimari Burnett who came through, hitting six three-pointers and finishing with an eye-opening 24 points.

Player of the Decade: Wayne Blackshear (2011)

All-Decade Team: Wayne Blackshear (2011), Billy Garrett, Jr. (2013), Charlie Moore (2016), Ayo Dosunmo (2018) and Adam Miller (2020)

Other decade highlights:

-Blackshear was both a McDonald’s All-American and the Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year in 2011. 

-The arrival of Marcus LoVett from California electrified the city and state for one season as the dynamic guard was one of the more entertaining players of the decade. In his senior year he led Morgan Park to Peoria, where the Mustangs finished third in the state in Class 3A in 2014-15. He was the talk of Peoria when he put up a sizzling 45 points in the state semifinal loss to Belleville Althoff.

-The Public League’s Red-South, which ultimately changed to the Red-South/Central, has been the state’s toughest conference in the state for the better part of the decade. Morgan Park won or at least shared two conference titles.  

-Morgan Park won Proviso West Holiday Tournament titles in 2012 and 2015. 

-Although Morgan Park did make four trips to the Chicago Public League title game, the Mustangs fell short all four times. Morgan Park lost to Curie in 2019, fell to Simeon in 2017 and 2020 and came up just short to Young in overtime in 2013.

-The Mustangs won 20 or more games in each of the past 10 seasons.

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