By Michael O'Brien
Simeon wasnt just playing Hillcrest on Saturday. The Wolverines were competing against the memories of the greatest high school basketball teams in state history because thats what they are expected to become. Step one is complete. The Wolverines turned in a solid debut, with a 69-51 win over Hillcrest in the final game of the Chicago Public Schools Shootout at UIC. Jabari Parker led the way with 26 points and five rebounds. He shot 9 for 13 from the field. Steve Taylor added 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. The Wolverines are the top-ranked team in the area, and the top-ranked team in several national polls. Did they live up to that lofty national ranking?No, Simeon coach Robert Smith said. Not yet. Findlay Prep and Oak Hill have a little bit of an advantage. By the time we get to that point (the Findlay Prep game in January) we should be fine.Simeon dominated the first quarter, outscoring Hillcrest 15-6. A 10-0 run in the second quarter put the Wolverines ahead 27-11. The Hawks were able to keep up in the second half, but couldnt cut into the deficit. Jabari right now is very aggressive, Smith said. (The most) since Ive known him. Hes trying not to disappoint himself and disappoint Simeon. Jayonee Troutman led the Hawks with 13 points and eight rebounds. Junior Jovan Mooring also scored 13. Jalen Loving added 10 points and six rebounds. Hillcrest (4-2) wasnt intimidated by Simeon, just outmanned.We didnt come out as strong as we normally do, Hillcrest coach Don Houston said. Once we realized we can probably play with these guys, we played with them the rest of the way. I just wish we had a better showing in the first half.The Wolverines turned the ball over 15 times, eight in the first quarter alone.Sloppy, Smith said. We just turned the ball over too much. It wasnt anything they were doing.Kendrick Nunn scored nine and grabbed six rebounds, but the talented junior may have shown a Simeon weakness: he was 0 for 4 from the free-throw line and didnt look comfortable.The Wolverines were without starting point guard Jaleni Neely.He was ready to go until he tripped over someone on Tuesday, Smith said. Hes at 85 percent.