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Morgan Park senior Lamont Walker nearly brought down the house with a vicious contested jam against Rich East on Tuesday night.

As if the Park Forest crowd wasn’t already in a frenzy, Walker tossed an alley-oop to Josh Cunningham for a slam on the next play, giving Morgan Park a 22-20 lead midway through the second quarter. The rest was history.

Walker scored 15 points, Cunningham had 14 and Morgan Park sprinted to an 80-55 victory in a Class 3A Rich East Sectional semifinal.

“Playing defense is fun,” Walker said. “Getting steals, throwing lobs and dunking on people is very fun.”

Morgan Park (19-6) had a blast, dunking on eight of its first nine baskets. But it was the two plays catalyzed by Walker that seemed to have the biggest residual impact.

“Lamont set the tone defensively,” Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin said. “He came in the huddle and said, ‘Defense wins ballgames. Follow my lead.’ He did that with the monster dunk.”

Rich East (21-5) battled back to tie the game at 27-all, but Morgan Park’s bench was ready to roll and went on an 18-1 spurt to close the half.

Sophomores Jarrin Randle (12 points), Alonzo Chatman (11 points) and Charlie Moore (10 points) were key components during that stretch.

“Their depth is unbelievable,” Rich East coach George Leonard said.

Quinton Moore led Rich East with 15 points. Don Henderson scored half of his 14 in the third quarter, and Marsean Ross had eight for the Rockets.

With Morgan Park leading 45-28 at halftime, the Rockets managed to cut the lead to 49-42 on a jumper from Myles Stanback. That would be as close as they could get.

Morgan Park answered with another explosive run, turning its pressure defense into transition offense and closing the quarter on a 14-1 spurt.

“We’re back to playing Mustang pressure,” Irvin said. “Pressure bursts pipes. That’s been my motto for a long time and we’re back to getting after people.”

Rich East had won 17 of 18 games prior to Tuesday. The Rockets were severely wounded when point guard Nicholas Hardy picked up three quick fouls. Hardy scored six of his seven points in the first quarter.

“I told my guys if we had lost by one point at the buzzer, I’d still be just as proud,” Leonard said. “Nobody in that gym could say they didn’t play hard.”

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