Bengals end Mustangs' run of back-to-back titles
By Steve Millar
Morgan Park has been a thorn in Bogan’s side throughout senior guard Jordan Booker’s career.
The Mustangs ended the Bengals’ season in a sectional final last season and in 2015-16.
They also beat Bogan by eight points last December.
Booker made sure his career would continue, pouring in 30 points in a brilliant performance to lead the Bengals to an 85-78 upset of two-time defending state champion Morgan Park in the Class 3A St. Laurence Sectional final on March 8.
“We haven’t been able to beat them,” Booker said. “This was my last chance, my senior year. I was so hungry. I knew if I lost, I was done, and I didn’t want it to end.”
Antione Bloxton added 20 points and Darrion Jones scored 10 for Bogan (28-3), which played Normal University High in the Joliet Central Supersectional on Tuesday.
The Bengals won despite a quiet night from star forward Rashaun Agee. Agee battled foul trouble throughout the game and fouled out with 5:03 left, after scoring just four points.
Agee had two nights earlier been as dominating as he had all season, scoring 36 points – half of them on an array of slam dunks – and grabbing 11 rebounds in a 74-60 victory over St. Laurence in a sectional semifinal.
“Rashaun being out motivated us,” Bloxton said. “When he fouled out, he told us to play for him. He couldn’t be out there to do it, so we had to help him out.”
Bogan proved it could beat a great team even without its best player.
“Rashaun going out didn’t mean nothing,” Booker said. “Our whole team can play. It’s not a one-man show.”
Bogan’s depth was best on display midway through the second quarter when senior guard Jeremiah Washington, the fourth player off the Bengals’ bench, entered the game for the first time and quickly scored seven points in a 47-second span.
Washington’s surge gave Bogan a 31-25 lead, and the Bengals never trailed again.
With guards Adam Miller (28 points) and Marcus Watson (24 points) leading the way, Morgan Park did not relinquish its crown without a fight.
Down 10 points early in the fourth quarter, the Mustangs got within three points or fewer on three occasions, but Bogan always had the answer.
“We all knew when they made a run that we were going to come right back at them,” Booker said. “That didn’t faze us.”
When Miller scored to cut Bogan’s lead to 72-70 with 2:09 to go, Bloxton answered with a huge 3-pointer to put the Bengals up by five with 1:55 left.
“We’ve been through a lot this season, up and down, coaches getting on us,” Bloxton said. “We all came together at the end of the season.
“We knew we had to get this win for our seniors and our coaches. We haven’t beaten them in a long time. We wanted this one and we got it done.”
Bloxton hit five of six free throws in the final 1:18 to seal the win.
Washington finished with nine points for Bogan, while Kyndall Davis had eight points and eight rebounds.
“We feel like this was the big hump we needed to get over,” Bloxton said. “We finally got over it, and now we’re ready for anything else.”