Orr defeated Mt. Carmel 59-39 to win the Class 2A state championship. The state title is the Spartans’ first in school history.
A Westside Story……
2017 2A State Champions
Orr Spartans pic.twitter.com/LhML2mBvWy
— Get Buckets (@getbuckets_chi) March 12, 2017
Here are a few of the key moments and performances from Orr’s history-making victory.
The key play: The block that ended Mt. Carmel’s first possession.
Orr junior guard Tyron Mosley swatted the shot of 6-foot-8 big man Jackson Marcotte just 15 seconds into the game.
That appeared to plant a seed of doubt into Mt. Carmel’s minds, as the Golden Aces struggled to finish their opportunities near the basket during the first half.
Mt. Carmel was 5-for-24 (20.8 percent) from the field in the first half. It was 0-for-7 from beyond the arc, but it had a tough time finishing in the paint, too.
Orr used an 11-0 run in the first quarter to stretch its lead to 16-6 by the end of the first. The Spartans led 28-14 at halftime. The game felt like it was over at that point, given Orr’s offensive execution and how hard it was for the Golden Aces to score.
Mt. Carmel cut its deficit to eight at one point in the third quarter, but that feeling proved to be correct.
The matchup nightmare: Orr junior forward Dannie Smith.
Smith has been one of the Public League’s breakout players in the second half of the season. The two broadcasters who called the game on Comcast seemed to marvel at his story — a junior who hadn’t played basketball in his first two years of high school, but plays with the type of skill and instincts of somebody much older.
Smith was impossible for Mt. Carmel to stop on Saturday, March 11. The 6-foot-5 forward finished with 19 points and seven assists.
The Golden Aces had Marcotte, a good athlete who led the Golden Aces with 17 points, defend him regularly.
Smith gave him trouble. He drew Marcotte’s second foul in the second quarter. In the second half, Orr looked to Smith to create off of the dribble, and he was able to do so effectively.
For example, junior guard Brian Hernandez (seven points, four rebounds, three assists) hit a 3-pointer right before the end of the third quarter to put Orr ahead 46-31. It was Smith who created Hernandez’s open look by beating his man off of the dribble.
The highlight-reel play: Mosley’s huge dunk.
In the third quarter, Mosley drove down the middle of lane. None of Mt. Carmel’s defenders stepped up to try to take a charge or challenge his shot, so Mosley elevated and threw down a forceful dunk.
— Allen Cunningham (@acphoto22) March 12, 2017
Here’s the replay.
Mosley had a strong all-around game. He finished with six points and six rebounds.
The underrated contributor: Orr junior guard Emanuel O’Neal.
O’Neal’s final stat line doesn’t shoot off of the page when you look through the box score, but he played well.
O’Neal finished with eight points, five rebounds and two assists. He played especially well in the second quarter. O’Neal scored on a putback early in the second. Late in the quarter, he made a good cut to the basket and scored again.
The play of O’Neal is an example of what it takes for a team to win a state championship.
Orr certainly has a star in junior forward Raekwon Drake (17 points, four rebounds) and Smith got better and better as the season went on, but the Spartans had several players who thrived in their roles. O’Neal is one example. Others are Hernandez, senior forward Sam Williams and senior guard Alex Flute.
The stories and highlights from the game.
The Public League wasn’t able to drive down to Peoria to cover the game, unfortunately, but check this space for links to other outlets’ highlights and stories.