By Dan Ruane
Simeon coach Robert Smith keeps warning people that his team will not win state unless it starts executing its offense better. But what Smith will acknowledge is that the Wolverines have been playing stellar defense.The top-ranked Wolverines continued to dominate in the Class 4A bracket with a 59-34 victory Tuesday over No. 9 Evanston in the Chicago State Supersectional.Simeon (31-1) will play No. 4 Bloom (28-3) at 8:15 p.m. Friday in the second Class 4A state semifinal. The Wolverines will be vying for an IHSA record sixth state championship and their fifth in the last seven years.There was too much selfishness with the ball in the first half, said Smith, whose team led 29-19 after two quarters. We cant just rely on Jabari (Parker) to get it done for us.Simeon took advantage of a nervous Evanston squad early on. They forced the Wildkits (21-11) into six early turnovers and two missed shots while racing to an 8-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game. A key play in that run was an alley-oop dunk by Kendrick Nunn that ignited the crowd. It was a sign of things to come for Nunn.Nunn is still young. He wont turn 17 till August, Smith said. He did a great job of wearing their shooter (Josh Irving) down.Nunn scored 13 points and had five assists. But it was his defense against Irving that made a difference. He forced Irving into shooting 3-for-14 from three-point range and held the senior guard to 10 points.I thought they were quicker to loose balls than us and got points off of that, Evanston coach Mike Ellis said. I thought we couldve had more opportunities inside. We didnt think aggressively enough to beat a team like Simeon.Parker had his usual strong game for the Wolverines. The junior, forward scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds and had six blocks. The Wolverine guards Nunn, Jaleni Neely, Reggie Norris, Jaylon Tate and Kendall Pollard held the Evanston trio of Irving, Jordan Perrin and Leonard Garrin to 6-for-28 shooting. This follows a pattern throughout the playoffs for Simeon of holding teams down in the second half while outscoring its opponents by an average of 23 points for the game.We were talking on the bus on the way down here about being happy anytime you can get Downstate, Smith said. We have added pressure this year because we are ranked nationally. But I liked the way that our guys didnt celebrate tonight. They know we have two more games to win.
By Dan Ruane