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A game that began as personal for Morgan Park’s Kiara Carter became just another game after one of her closest friends, Metea Valley guard Bria Walker, left the game with an apparent knee injury a few seconds into the second half Saturday.
To the untrained eye, however, the whole game looked personal for Carter.
The 5-foot-8 senior had 15 points, nine rebounds and three steals in a little more than 24 minutes to help No. 7 Morgan Park (16-2) defeat Metea Valley 64-50 at the 23rd annual McDonald’s Shootout hosted by Willowbrook High School.
The Mustangs ran out to a 17-4 lead after six minutes and never led by fewer than six points when Metea Valley closed to within 31-25 on rebound basket of her own missed free throw by 6-foot-2 senior Lori Obendorf (21 points, 15 rebounds).
“When we start out we’re very intense, very hyped because we want to win,” Carter said. “We started out doing good, playing good defense, getting some fast breaks throughout the game.
“We got a little tired, then we started slowing down a little,” she added. “But in the second half we pushed our energy right back up.”
After Obendorf pulled Metea Valley to within six points, Morgan Park embarked on a 22-10 run to open its biggest lead at 53-35 with 7:31 remaining in the contest.
“We knew Metea Valley was a very good team and we knew we had to be patient,” Morgan park coach TJ Johnson said. “Unfortunately, everybody we play is bigger than we are, so we are prepared for them. We had two new starters today for different reasons, but they came through.
“We’re just trying to get better prepared for the city playoffs and then get ready for state,” he added.
Taylore Cephas had 13 points, Bhrea Griffin added 12 points, Kierra Graves had 11 and Khalilah Morrow added nine points and 10 rebounds for Morgan Park, which was only outrebounded by 10 by the taller Metea Valley.
“We practice boxing out and rebounding the most because are small,” Carter said. “We seem to do well with pretty big teams.”
Nia Flowers added 14 points and five rebounds for Metea Valley (18-5), which lost 6-2 forward Anna Petersen (ACL) at Christmas and now faces the prospect of losing its starting point guard.
“At some point, we’re going to catch a break,” said Metea Valley coach Kris Kalivas, who added that Walker will get an MRI on Monday. “We started off a little scared and throughout the game we struggled to finish. We don’t have a big bench and at that pace of a game that hurts us.
“The kids played hard from start to finish, we just ran out of gas,” she added.