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Morgan Park's Kyle Davis drives to the hoop against Limestone in Friday's Class 3A state semifinals. | Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
PEORIA — Since Nick Irvin took over as head coach at Morgan Park, the Mustangs have earned a reputation as the being latest team in the state. They are late for nearly every game. Once last year, Irvin claimed to be delayed by traffic for over an hour. That game was at Simeon, 4.6 miles up Vincennes from Morgan Park.
So it was fitting that a uniform snafu delayed the start of Morgan Park’s 70-49 win Friday over Limestone in the Class 3A state semifinals at Carver Arena.
“Things were going too smoothly for a while there,” Irvin said. “I was hoping something went wrong.”
Morgan Park thought it was the home team in the game, so it dressed in white uniforms. The Mustangs found out as the took the court that they were the visitors.
Assistant coach Walt Woghiren went back to the hotel, grabbed the proper uniforms and ran back to the arena.
That was the last mistake the Mustangs made on Friday. They led Limestone by 10 points at the half and then opened the third quarter with a 19-1 run to put the game away.
“We came out of the locker room and told each other we had to get to it,” Morgan Park senior Kyle Davis said.
Morgan Park forced Limestone into 18 turnovers and held the Rockets to just six points in the first quarter and seven in the third.
“We live by the motto ‘pressure breaks pipes,’” Irvin said.
Davis and senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. led the Mustangs with 15 points each. Garrett had four assists and two steals. Xzavier Taylor added 10 points and Markee Williams scored nine.
No Limestone player cracked double digits in scoring. Hank Mathews led the Rockets (24-10) with nine points and Terrence Shelby and Kendall Davis each scored eight.
“Our coaches did a good scouting report,” Kyle Davis said. “They said the middle will be open for us, so we attacked it.”
Morgan Park (32-3) will face Cahokia in the Class 3A state title game on Saturday afternoon.
“I’ll take on anybody right now, I don’t care who it is,” Irvin said at the post-game press conference.
When he was reminded that Red-South rival Simeon was in Peoria, Irvin responded quickly: “I already beat them, they are out of the way.”