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Nick Irvin is known and respected for the freedom he gives his players on the basketball court. He draws the line with personal responsbility and discipline off the floor.
Star senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. missed practice, and Irvin refused to bend his own rules. Garrett Jr. had to sit. Nick Irvin is, above all, a man with options. This year’s Morgan Park basketball edition is an embarrassment of riches.
Hyde Park transfer Kyle Davis continued his seamless transition to the new program by scoring 11 points in the first quarter to spark a 23-2 burst and lead the No. 3 Mustangs to an impressive 78-60 victory over Wheaton Academy in first-round play of the Proviso West Holiday Tournament Wednesday night in Hillside.
Morgan Park advances to play Proviso West in the second round Thursday.
Davis keyed a contingent of five double-figure scorers for the Mustangs (10-1). Davis added game-highs of seven assists and six steals.
Freshman guard Charlie Moore came off the bench and hit three three-pointers in scoring 15 points for team-high honors. Highly-toughted junior Josh Cunningham registered 14 points and nine rebounds. Torry Johnson also hit two three-pointers in contributing 10 points.
The balance proved overwhelming.
“The last couple of years, we’ve been known as a one-man band; first Wayne Blackshear and then last year, Billy Garrett,” Irvin said. “We’re a lot more than just one player and we have a lot of weapons.”
The Mustangs fell behind early to the smooth-shooting Warriors 8-4, but it proved a temporary blip. Davis converted a three-point play, nailed a three-pointer and punctuated the game-changing run with a steal and breakaway layup at the buzzer for a 27-10 lead for the Mustangs.
The Warriors’ only basket during the run was a Jake Cousins’ jump shot.
Davis was the instigator. “I talked with Billy before the game and he told me to be read to play,” Davis said. “I don’t look at it, like this is my game or anything, I just want to go out and play hard and help the team.”
Garrett Jr. did not enter the game into late in the third quarter. He scored two points in eight minutes of play.
Morgan Park forced a staggering 20 turnovers in the first half, and 29 for the game, that helped them seize a 30-12 advantage on points off turnovers. “Morgan Park is a team that plays with runs,” Wheaton Academy coach Paul Ferguson said. “It was an eye-opener for us, to play against a team with that kind of speed and athleticism.”
Morgan Park led by as many as 24 points. Even so, Wheaton Academy (9-2) impressed with its own tenacity and skill set. Junior 6-8 forward Gordon Gehr heated up in the second quarter, scoring seven consecutive points for the Warriors in the second quarter. “Gordon’s a very good player and an excellent shooter,” Ferguson said.
Behr scored a game-high 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including three three-pointers. Collin Roy added 14 points, including a 27-foot runner off that glass to end the third quarter. Cousins finished with 10 points.