Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011
Posted 10:23 p.m.
By Michael O'Brien
The biggest moments of Jabari Parkers high school basketball career are still to come, but Thursday at Simeon, the Wolverines sophomore phenom came up huge in the final 40 seconds.
He grabbed a crucial rebound, dished off an assist and then drained the free throws that sealed the 52-45 win over visiting Morgan Park in the second round of the Public League playoffs.
Parker also played a huge role in holding Mustangs star Wayne Blackshear to 13 points. Blackshear only managed two points in the second half.
Jabari asked to guard Wayne as soon as we heard we would be playing Morgan Park, Simeon coach Robert Smith said. He wanted the challenge.
Parker finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Blackshear also had 11 rebounds and four blocks.
That was a state championship atmosphere, Smith said. Two of the best programs in the city going at each other.
No. 1 Simeon built a 10-point lead late in the third quarter, but Morgan Park scored nine points in a row, cutting the lead to one on a three from Billy Garrett Jr. with 6:02 to play. The Wolverines missed five free throws in the fourth quarter, allowing the Mustangs to stay close.
We were up by ten, Smith said. Usually we would make those free throws to ice the game.
Parker rebounded Adrian Jeffries missed free throw with 48 seconds to play. He found Rashawn McElrath on the other end for a dunk and then was fouled on the next two Simeon possessions. The 6-7 sophomore drained three of the four free throws to seal the win.
Thats just what he does, Smith said. It doesnt matter what class he is in. Hes the best player in the state of Illinois.
Morgan Park showed up over an hour late for the game. Mustangs coach Nick Irvin was battling the flu, he had been in the hospital earlier in the day.
My two young sophomores (Markee Williams and Garrett) didnt come to play today, Irvin said. They were going too fast. The need to understand that Wayne and Jerome Brown are the leaders. (Brown) took two shots. We cant win with that.
Steve Taylor scored 11 and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Wolverines (22-0) and McElrath added 12.
Garrett Jr. scored 14 for the Mustangs (15-6) and Jeffries added 10 points and 10 rebounds.