December 5, 2015
By Eric Van Dril
Turning the ball over 20 times and allowing 10 offensive rebounds is a dangerous combination against any boys basketball team. It's often lethal against one of Morgan Park's caliber.
That was true for Evanston on Saturday, Dec. 5. Morgan Park, ranked No. 2 by the Chicago Tribune, beat the seventh-ranked Wildkits 71-59 in the Chicago Elite Classic at the UIC Pavilion.
"Our whole team is built on effort," Morgan Park senior forward Alonzo Chatman said. "We go hard. We try to outwork our opponents, and it usually turns out in our favor."
The Mustangs attacked the offensive glass often. Their 10 offensive rebounds resulted in eight second-chance points.They also played an intense brand of in-your-face defense. Morgan Park regularly pressures the ball like Niles North. The Wildkits struggled to run their offense against the Mustangs (1-0) at times.
"We had the gameplan. The coaches drew up a good gameplan," Evanston senior guard Trevon Marshall said. "Sometimes we executed it, sometimes we didn't. When we executed it, you could see that we got results. But when we didn't execute it, we turned the ball over, we were doing one-handed passes — things that we don't usually do."
Marshall added: "Every little thing matters when you're on this type of stage."
Evanston (4-1) committed eight turnovers in the first quarter, but it only trailed 13-10 at the end of the first. Morgan Park stretched its lead to 35-24 by halftime.
Evanston started fast in the third quarter. A lay-in by junior forward Elyjah Williams cut the deficit to six points, but Morgan Park immediately answered with a 10-2 run to increase its lead to 47-33. That run included two steals that resulted in lay-ups by senior guard Jamal Burton and sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu (eight points, six steals).
The Wildkits' hope of coming back was effectively ended soon thereafter in a sequence that began with a Morgan Park steal, and senior guard Jarrin Randall (14 points) scoring in transition. The Wildkits then turned the ball over in their own end of the floor. Burton (18 points, 10 rebounds, five steals) collected the ball, stepped behind the 3-point line and buried a triple from the corner.
The Mustangs led 55-39 at the end of the third quarter. They finished the game with 22 points off of turnovers. Evanston had four.
"With a team like that, when you turn the ball over, it's an automatic two points — at least," said Evanston senior forward Dylan Mulvihill, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds. "Once you turn the ball over, that's how you pick up fouls in transition. It was a domino effect for us, starting with turnovers."
Mulvihill added that he was hopeful that the loss to Morgan Park would serve as a learning experience, showing the way Evanston must play against an elite team that applies a great deal of defensive pressure and plays at a very high intensity.
"It's a good lesson learned for us," he said. "It's early in the season, and we've got a long way to go."
• Memphis commit Charlie Moore, a senior guard, finished with 14 points for Morgan Park.
• Junior guard Nojel Eastern (19 points) led Evanston in scoring. Marshall and sophomore guard Dravon Clayborn had 10 points apiece. Williams finished with eight points.