As last years Morgan Park were accepting their championship medals, then junior standout Ayo Dosunmu was required to take to the podium on crutches.
One year later, Dosunmu finally got his opportunity to showcase his abilities on the big stage, claiming the class 3A title game scoring record with 28 points and leading Morgan Park to a 71-56 win over Southeast for the Mustangs second consecutive state title.
“It was great to get back down here, with all the injuries I had to go through the past two years, it’s fulfilling to be able to win it on the court with my team,” said Dosunmu. “We’re just a good family. We’re all together.”
“This was the toughest one,” said Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin. “At the end of the day, I knew these kids were loyal to me and would run through a brick wall for me. I just had to get myself level headed.”
Southeast took the game to Morgan Park straight away, but it was Peoria native Adam Miller who gave the Mustangs a 18-12 first quarter advantage with his three for three start from behind the arc.
“This season was a long, hard process with moving from city to city,” said Miller. “But coach told me before we even got here that all of this was planned. Coach brought me back to my city.
The Spartans refused to be intimidated by the defending state champions, and went on a 11-4 run to start the second quarter to take a 23-22 lead behind junior Anthony Fairlee’s (16 points 10 rebounds) aggressive play.
But as soon as quickly as Southeast got back into the game, Morgan Park responded just as fast.
Dosunmu and Cam Burrell (11 points, nine rebounds) combined to give Morgan Park a comfortable nine point halftime advantage capped off with a Dosumnu half court buzzer beater.
“During practice, we actually work on last minute shots,” said Dosumnu. “When it came off it actually didn’t feel good but it went in.”
Try as they might to get back into the game in the second half, Southeast could never get over the hump as Morgan Park kept the Spartans at an arms length away.
Foul troubles for Southeast eliminated any chance of a comeback as Fairlee, Terrion Murdix, Michael Taylor and Robert Hayes all fouled out in the fourth quarter, allowing Morgan Park to comfortably close out the game.
Morgan Park’s latest 3A championship is their fourth title since 2013. With seemingly nobody left to beat in class 3A, the question of will Morgan Park finally move up to class 4A? undoubtedly arose again, with as little clarity as ever.
“Let me put that to rest too. Every 4A team we beat anyway, so what’s the difference? I want to beat everybody,” said Irvin. “We’re not running away from anybody. We played the number one team in the country, I think people forget that. I think people forgot who I am, I’ll play anybody, any place, anytime, anywhere.”