MORGAN PARK 60, SPRINGFIELD LANPHIER 53
PEORIA—Morgan Park lost its leader, junior point guard Ayo Dosunmu, just four minutes into the Class 3A State Semifinal game against Springfield Lanphier on Friday at Carver Arena.
Dosunmu, the leading scorer and primary ball handler for the Mustangs, injured his right foot. At that point all eyes turned to freshman Marcus Watson, who only played two varsity games this season.
Dosunmu and Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin both had total faith in the unproven guard.
“He is like my little brother,” Dosunmu said. “I tell him all the time you never know when your number is going to be called. He is big-time.”
Watson had some shaky moments early, but settled down and helped guide the Mustangs to a 60-53 victory against the Lions.
“[Watson] was waiting for this moment,” Irvin said. “When Ayo went down he knew it was his time. We needed him. That was a gutsy effort.”
Watson finished with nine points, six assists, four steals and four rebounds. Center Lenell Henry led the Mustangs (25-6) with 12 points and nine rebounds. It may be the first time an Irvin coached team has been led in scoring by a big man.
“[Dosunumu] told me what I had to do, said go get the win for him,” Henry said. “I know he works hard. He got us here with the work he put in, so I had to go get it for him.”
Sophomore guard Lamond Johnson scored 10 and freshman Nimari Burnett added nine points.
“Our leader went down and these guys could have quit, they could have surrendered,” Irvin said. “We are more than just one player, we are a team. We showed that today.”
Andrea Williams opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer to cut Morgan Park’s lead to 43-41. The Mustangs responded immediately with back-to-back three-pointers from senior Cam Irvin and Burnett.
“They love the moment,” Irvin said. “Both of them love taking big shots. They were probably arguing over who would shoot.”
Cardell McGee led the Lions (28-4) with 12 points and five rebounds and Williams scored 10. Lanphier took an astounding number of shots and finished 23-for-76 from the field.
X-rays showed a slight fracture in Dosunmu’s left foot. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
“I don’t have to talk to them,” Irvin said. “They love to be at this point. Once the ball goes up tomorrow I just have to run up and down and do my antics.”
FENWICK 67, BLOOMINGTON 52
PEORIA—Fenwick seniors Jacob Keller and Jamal Nixon didn’t receive any honors this season. Neither made the All-Area or All-State teams. But both are tremendous players. Their team-first attitudes didn’t result in award-worthy stats, but it led the way to the state finals at Carver Arena.
Friday’s Class 3A State Semifinal game went pretty much according to plan then. Keller and Nixon were dominant in their own ways and let freshman DJ Steward do the scoring and the Friars rolled to a 67-52 win against Bloomington.
“We have two senior leaders,” Fenwick coach Rick Malnati said. “I would argue they are the best point guard in the state and the best post guy in the state. Jamal now has 102 wins, he has surpassed Corey Maggette as the all-time leader in wins. He’s been the biggest winner in the history of Fenwick.”
Steward scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Nixon had 18 points and nine rebounds. Keller added eight points and eight assists.
“Keller is a good Rajon Rondo,” Malnati said. “The points really don’t matter. He can get you 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 20 points or whatever is needed. You didn’t see his best game today but he’s our stabilizing factor. He can get to where he wants on the court.”
Keller also had six steals. The Friars (30-4) had 17 steals in the game and forced Bloomington (26-5) into 23 turnovers. It wasn’t by chance.
“Watching film in the hotel room we saw their tendencies and most of them went left to right on crossovers so we tried to sit on that,” Keller said. “I just tried to speed them up a little bit. [Steward] with his length helped force the turnovers as well.”
Fenwick led by seven at the half. The Purple Raiders pulled within three points midway through the third quarter but that was as close it would get.
“We thought we were going to play man-to-man,” Malnati said. “At the first tv timeout we switched to 1-3-1 and you just saw a different look in [Bloomington’s] guards’ eyes. When we saw that tentative look we stuck with it.”
Sophomore Chris Payton, a 6-6 forward, led Bloomington with 21 points and nine rebounds. Patrick Fisher added 10 and sniper Dazon Farris scored nine.
“[Payton] is a good player, we knew if we blocked him out and didn’t let him get any easy buckets that we’d be fine,” Fenwick senior Billy Bruce said.
The Friars will play Morgan Park in the Class 3A state title game on Saturday at 12:45.
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