PEORIA -- Simeon fell short of its goal at the beginning of the season of winning a Class 4A boys basketball state championship, but the Wolverines ended their 2015-16 season on a high note with an 83-55 win over Rockford Auburn in the third-place game.
The Wolverines (30-4) raced out to a 41-25 halftime lead and never looked back as they thoroughly outplayed Auburn at both ends of the floor. Simeon's defense and a cold-shooting Auburn team meant the Knights only shot 32 percent (18-for-55) from the field as the Wolverines out-rebounded Auburn 51-28 for the contest.
Simeon's offense was led by senior guard Zach Norvell, as the Gonzaga commit had 22 points in his final high school game. Senior Ben Coupet also added 14 points while junior point guard Evan Gilyard finished with 11 points. Junior big man Madison Lowery also registered a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.
"We wanted to come out here and make sure we brought home a trophy," Norvell said. "It's disappointing not be playing in a few minutes [in the Class 4A state title game] but we got the job done tonight."
Rockford Auburn (25-8) ended its season with two consecutive losses, but made a nice run through the Class 4A Rockford Sectional to reach Peoria. Devon Richardson led the Knights with 15 points while star senior Trayvon Tyler finished with eight points on 3-for-13 shooting and 2-for-11 shooting from 3-point range.
After a two-year hiatus from Peoria, Simeon returned to claim its eighth state tournament trophy in the last 11 seasons. The Wolverines won a state title in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and finished in second in 2008. The 1-1 weekend in Peoria means that Simeon head coach Robert Smith is now 18-2 in games in IHSA state tournament games in Peoria.
"I thought we showed a lot of heart and courage coming out and playing the way we played," Smith said.
Although Simeon fell short of the state championship, they did win the Public League Playoffs this season and were No. 1 in the area to end the regular season. The Wolverines will lose talented seniors like Norvell, Coupet and Josh Thomas, but they have enough talent coming back where they should be a major competitor again next season.