Mustangs' season ends at hand of Brooks
BY TIM CRONIN firstname.lastname@example.org
Morgan Park's Lamont Walker battles Brooks' George Marshall.
The end of Wayne Blackshear's Morgan Park career, and the Mustangs' run in the Class 3A playoffs, came abruptly Friday night.
It came with a handful of seconds to go, with a hug from coach Nick Irvin, another from teammate Markee Williams, and warm applause from the Mustangs' portion of the crowd of 1,700 at Rich South.
That, however, didn't change the sectional final scoreboard: Brooks 60, Morgan Park 46.
"I'll take this as motivation," Blackshear said. "My high school career has been good since I stepped on the floor as a freshman."
He scored 14 points in the sectional final loss, leading the Mustangs. Nobody else from Morgan Park (20-7) had more than nine.
"I wish I had him with me the rest of my career," Irvin said.
"Coming this close, it hurts," Blackshear said. "They were probably more aggressive on the boards than us."
They were up against a Public League title team that had center Kevin Gray back in the lineup despite a injured knee, and that helped provide the Eagles with a 42-17 rebounding edge. While Morgan Park cut an early 11-point deficit to four points late in the third quarter, a 11-point surge by Brooks settled the issue.
"With the exception of Wayne, they don't have rebounders," Brooks coach Bobby Locke said. "You make him over out to the perimeter and make him shoot jump shots, and everybody (on Brooks) goes to the boards. That's what we did. Our main priority was to get the first rebound."
They got 71 percent of them, a monumental difference. As was Gray, as inspirational as he was formidable. George Marshall's 18 points led Brooks (24-3), but Gray's 10 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks meant everything.
"He probably won't play on Tuesday," Locke said, thinking ahead to Tuesday's supersectional against Lindblom.
Of course, that's what Locke thought going into Friday's game, until Gray's father told him he was able to play, hyperextended left knee notwithstanding.
Speaking of hurt, there's Blackshear, emotionally. He had hoped this season would end with a trophy.
"It's going to hurt," Blackshear said. "It hurts now. By next week, you're going to feel it, because you can't go downstate and win."