Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011
10:56 p.m.

By Steve Tucker

Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin had Saturdays matchup with Rock Island on his mind since the game was announced.

In a battle of Class 3A powers, the Mustangs rallied from an early deficit and hung on to beat Rock Island 57-54 before a full house in the City-Suburban Showdown Saturday at the UIC Pavilion.

This was a game I really looked forward to, Irvin said. I think that we played good for 26 minutes after a bad start, we picked it up and played hard. I think were good right now and our guards, Markee Williams Billy Garrett Jr. and Jerome Brown played great.

The No. 4 Mustangs (16-6) built a 52-43 lead with just over two minutes to play before Rock Island battled back with a 9-2 run to get within 54-52 with 42.4 seconds to play. After Russell Smith made two free throws for Morgan Park, Romal Davis got loose inside to get the Rocks back within two.

Morgan Park missed 3 of 4 free throws in the last 26.7 seconds, but Wayne Blackshear (18 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks) made one, and also had a huge block at the basket and Stanford-bound Chasson Randle (13 points, eight rebounds), who became the third player from the Western Big 6 to score 2,000 career points on Friday night, missed from half court as time expired.

This was a big game and I wanted to do whatever I could for the team, Blackshear said. We wanted to come our aggressive and we did.


Garrett scored 12 for the Mustangs while Denzel McCauley led Rock Island with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

We did what we wanted to do, but had too many silly turnovers, Rocks coach Thom Sigel said. We kind of thought, win, lose or draw, wed know more by playing this game.

After Morgan Park took an early 8-6 lead on a Blackshear jam, the Rocks, which had a 10-game winning streak snapped, closed the first quarter with a 10-4 run as Keith Keesy scored four including a layup at the buzzer that made it 16-12 Rock Island.

After the Mustangs got even at 16 on a free throw by Blackshear, the Rocks went on a 12-2 tear to go up 30-20 after a three-pointer by Randle. But Morgan Park closed with an 8-1 tear that included back-to-back three-pointers from Brown and Williams to get within 31-28 at the break.