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Morgan Park’s Jarrin Randall wasn’t rushing his thoughts when he went to the free-throw line with the Mustangs up two with 7.3 seconds left in the Class 3A Joliet Central Supersectional against Bogan on Tuesday.
Clinching a trip downstate with a chance to defend a state title didn’t come first.
“Nah. I was just trying to ... I don’t know,” Randall said, smiling. “I was just trying to make them. I knew I was going to make them, though. I just wanted to solidify the game.
“After I hit both of them, then I started thinking about downstate.”
Randall’s heroics made a three at the buzzer by Bogan’s Luwane Pipkins mere window dressing, as the Mustangs punched their ticket to Peoria with a 68-67 victory.
Josh Cunningham (16 points, 15 rebounds), Lamont Walker (14 points), Charlie Moore (11 points) and Torry Johnson (10 points) led the way for the Mustangs (21-6), who are to play Orr in the second of Friday’s Class 3A semifinals.
Pipkins (24 points) and James Jones (20 points) starred for Bogan, which ended its season at 27-6.
“It feels real good,” Cunningham said. “Two times in a row? Man, it’s a blessing.”
Bogan had beaten Morgan Park in two of the three previous meetings this season. The Bengals appeared poised to run away with the fourth after an 11-0 second-quarter flurry featuring back-to-back-to-back threes by Pipkins (two) and Jones left them in front 32-22.
The Mustangs, though, made the most of the final 34 seconds of the half, scoring on a three-point play by Johnson and a pair of free throws by Randall to cut the gap to five.
“That was real big,” Cunningham said. “Nick (head coach Nick Irvin) always says, ‘Play with your heart.’ And that’s what we came out in the second half to do.”
Bogan maintained a slim lead throughout the third period, but Moore had the final say for Morgan Park with a 23-foot bomb at the buzzer that hit the front of the rim and dropped through to get the Mustangs within 49-48.
The fourth quarter would play out to a 60-60 draw with 1:22 remaining after a free throw by Bogan’s Antoine Boyd. Morgan Park went back in front for good the next time down the floor when Marcus Johnson grabbed a missed shot and put it in while being fouled. The Mustangs led by as many as five, but didn’t clinch it until Randall’s final free throws.
“We came out to play hard and played with our hearts,” Cunningham said. “The last games (against Bogan) I don’t think we played with our hearts that much. But this time we dug down deep.”
Bogan’s first supersectional appearance followed an emotional end to a regular season in which the Bengals were ejected from the state playoffs due to a scheduling violation, then re-instated by the IHSA, which suspended head coach Arthur Goodwin.
“It was a great run,” interim coach Kenneth Horton said. “We played hard, but we made some mental mistakes and turnovers. Hat’s off to Morgan Park, they played a tough game.”