The boys basketball finals were conducted this past weekend in both Class 3A and 4A. A nice mix of downstate, city and suburban teams converged on the Peoria Civic Center for the semi finals which tipped off Friday. If any fans were looking for "star power" in this year's finals, they were nicely accommodated as numerous top level recruits, both regionally and nationally, took the floor at Carver Arena. The Chicago Public League schools, for the second year in a row, took home the title trophy in each class.
Morgan Park won its second straight Class 3A championship after downing Lincoln Saturday afternoon in the title game. Lincoln was hitting shots and jumped out to a big lead before the Mustangs rode stars Josh Cunningham and Lamont Walker to a big come from behind victory. Morgan Park defeated fellow Public League rival Orr in the semi's while Lincoln downed Rockford Lutheran.
Whitney Young won the 4A trophy by downing Lisle Benet in the championship game Saturday night. Okafor, White, Reynolds and company were not to be denied this year. Benet overcame a huge deficit to close to within two points at game's end, but the outcome was never seriously in doubt. Young had defeated Lincolnshire Stevenson in the semi's on Friday in a game that was eagerly anticipated. Stevenson's Jalen Brunson set 4A records for points (56), free throws made (14), and three point shots made (7), but could not lead his team past the talented and balanced Dolphins of Young. Benet downed Edwardsville and Armon Fletcher in the other semi to gain a title game berth.
Lastly, while no Peoria area teams made the high school finals, the NCAA Tournament had a Peoria connection as senior Lawrence Alexander from Manual made a huge three point shot for his North Dakota State Bison squad to send their game against heavily favored Oklahoma into overtime. The Bison prevailed in the extra stanza to advance and Alexander, as well as his alma mater at Manual, received big props on the national broadcast.