IL Boys 4A Championship Game:

Posted on March 18, 2012. Filed under: Basketball | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Wolverines 50, Pirates 48

March 17, 2012

PEORIA — Time for the best of the best…. 1 vs 2 for the 2012 Illinois Boys 4A State title and just as important, bragging rights. Not since 2004, when Homewood-Flossmoor and Peoria Central had it out for the State championship has a matchup been this shiny. Even though the crowd wasn’t as large, the hype was well worth the price of admission.

You almost hated for this game to come to an end, as both team scored back-and-forth, each getting a couple of runs, but once the smoke cleared the basketball court, it was the Wolverines still standing, defeating the Pirates 50-48 at Carver Arena Saturday night.

Coming into this game, top nationally ranked Simeon (33-1) is undefeated in the State and one lost in a tournament held in January, while Proviso East (32-1) is just undefeated, including winning the Proviso West Holiday tournament.

All eyes were on junior phenom Jabari Parker, but it was his teammates that held things together when they need it the most. I’m referring to Steve Taylor, Jaleni Neely and Kendrick Nunn.

“That’s a great team,” Taylor said referring to Proviso East. “They played tough and wanted it just like we did. But as you can see, we wanted it a little bit more.”

The first half ended tied at 23.

“As good as they played and as bad as we played, we were still in the game,” coach Robert Smith said after the game.

Nunn opened the fourth quarter with a solid 3-pointer, shortly afterwards, it was more Nunn, then Taylor and Neely got involved, getting an 8-0 run that gave Simeon a 45-41 lead with 3 minutes, 5 seconds remaining.

Simeon extended the lead to 50-45 on a vicious dunk by Parker with 12 seconds left that was called a technical because he held onto the rim a little too long.

Proviso East’s Sterling Brown wasn’t ready to throw in the towel, considering he held Parker in check for most of the game. The team called a timeout, their last timeout, once they were back on the floor, they advanced the ball with pure precision and Brown nailed a BIG 3-pointer from the right corner with less than three seconds to play (50-48). The problem here is, Simeon never touch nor inbounds the ball, thus, the time ran out and the celebration began.

It was reported that coach Donnie Boyce said after the game “I told Sterling we needed a delay too. I should have told him to throw the ball up in the stands afterwards.”

“Unfortunately we came up two points short,” Brown said. “We had a lot of chances to get there, a lot of chances to capitalize. Their experience and our lack of experience was a factor. This is our first time being here, and everybody wanted to take over instead of playing as a team. We’ll get back here next year and learn from our mistakes.”

With this victory, Parker has one more title than Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose and he still has one more season left to play. “I’m just glad to pass him, but I couldn’t have done it by myself,” Parker said. “Throughout the years I’ve been blessed with good talent around me. I can’t accept this alone.

Parker led the team with 15 points, and Taylor contributed 12 points and 15 boards. Brown finished with the game high of 25 points.

“It was a collective effort. We came out and got a lot of stops,” said Parker after the contest. “Sterling Brown, he’s an amazing player. We just had to play defense when it counted in the fourth quarter.”

“Scheduling is huge,” said Smith whose team only loss cam to national powerhouse Findlay Prep. “You’ve gotta be in this environment, and we’ve been in this environment all year.”

This is Simeon’s sixth state championship and the team decided to leave their mark on this championship by all removing their shoes on the center of the court. IHSA Director Marty Hickman picked up the shoes.

“I really couldn’t tell you how 32-1 feels because it’s so frustrating,” coach Donnie Boyce said after the game. “You’re right there, it was right in your grasp and you can touch it. We took the champions to the limit but didn’t get the job done.”


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IL Boys 4A Third Place: Bloom vs Rockford Auburn

Posted on March 18, 2012. Filed under: Basketball | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

March 17, 2012

Peoria — Both teams come in to this game a little short of playing for the Boys Class 4A title. Bloom lost to top ranked Simeon, while Rockford Auburn lost to Proviso East.

The Blazing Trojans fell short, 57-46, against Rock Auburn in the third place (consolation) game at Carver Arena.

“The slow start definitely cost us,’’ Bloom coach Jasper Williams said. ‘‘We were back on our heels all day.’’

In the first half Bloom shot 2-for-11 from the field, but only trailed 8 points at the half (28-20). But they had a bigger problem, Wichita State recruit Fred  VanFleet of Rockford Auburn. He was explosive on both ends of the court and finished the night with 21 points and 5 assists.

Bloom made one more run in the fourth quarter to cut their lead down to 49-42 that included a basket by Donald Moore with 2:43 remaining, but this proved not  enough.

‘‘That was not Bloom you saw out there,’’ Williams said. ‘‘We pride ourselves on tough defense and team-play, and we were just not focused today at all.’’

Donald Moore, the team’s leading scorer and captain, echoed his coach’s sentiments. ‘‘It’s not the way we wanted to finish,’’ Moore said. ‘‘We just couldn’t get our heads into the game and that’s not how we were taught to play.’’

Moore finished the game with 16 points, and teammate Dejahown Freeman contributed nine.


Auburn coach Bryan Ott said his team played with a chip on their shoulder. ‘‘We lost twice to Proviso East and we wanted to leave here on a positive note,” Ott said. ‘‘We know how people view us and we used that as motivation to beat a very good Bloom team.’’

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IL Boys 4A semifinals: Bloom vs Simeon

Posted on March 17, 2012. Filed under: Basketball | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

March 15, 2012

PEORIA — Bloom did everything right against top-ranked Simeon in the Illinois Boys 4A semifinal contest except win as they fall 45-35.

Coming into the game, the plan was to hold junior phenom Jabari Parker in control… done!

Control the tempo of the game… done!

Pressure the ball in the back court and double whenever possible without leaving a player clearly open… check!

The only uncheck mark left was win…. uncheck!

This is one of the only teams to hold Parker without field goal in the first half of a game.

“They were expecting to play us their way, and they did,” said Parker, who finished with 10 points, five rebounds and four blocks. “They slowed it down and face-guarded me the whole game.”

A bright spot for the Wolverines was junior guard, Kendrick Nunn, who shot pretty well but he covered Bloom’s Donald Moore very well. Nunn was able to keep him from penetrating and having his way, and when he did get in the lane, Parker, Steve Taylor or Kendall Pollard were there to swat his shot away.

Moore’s first successful jumper was a 3-pointer that brought the Blazing Trojans within 36-34 with 2
minutes, 24 seconds remaining.

Then Parker countered on the other end, getting fouled on a mid-range jumper and completing the three-point play to make it 39-34 with 1:58 left.

“I want to give Bloom a lot of credit,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “They pushed us to the limit. I thought they out-toughed us. We came up with some key plays down. From my aspect, I really thought we should have lost the game.”

Lejavius Johnson led all players with 18 points. Taylor led the Wolverines with 13, followed by Jaylon Tate, who added 11.

The Wolverines (32-1) will face unbeaten Proviso East (32-0) in a heavyweight Illinois Boys 4A instant classic Saturday night at 8:15 pm.

Simeon and Proviso East have been ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, since the preseason.

“Going into Proviso, I need to find better ways to get my teammates open and get shots for myself,” said Parker. “This is a bad time to be messing up. We just have to tweak some things and get back to the blueprint.”

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IL Boys 4A semifinals: Proviso East vs Rockford Auburn

Posted on March 17, 2012. Filed under: Basketball | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

March 15, 2012

PEORIA — Talk about an ugly – scratch that… an unattractive win for Proviso East over Rockford Auburn 55-45 in the Boys 4A semifinals game at Carver Arena. This ended Auburn’s 22-game winning streak dating back to the Pirates’ 75-56 victory over the Knights at the Proviso West tournament on Dec. 29.

The Knights missed its first 10 3-pointers en route to finishing 3-for-16 from downtown and committed, gulp, 24 turnovers and finished the game shooting  17-for-51 from the floor and 8-for-18 from the free-throw line.

“I don’t think we’ve turned it over 24 times in the last five or six years,” Auburn coach Bryan Ott said.

Now don’t think the Pirates played a lot better… they shot 37.9% from the floor, 22.2% from behind the arc and 43.8% from the charity stripe.

Both teams combined for six points, 3-for-21 shooting from the field, 0-for-5 shooting from the line and 17 turnovers in the first quarter.

The two superstars for both team, Auburn’s Fred Van Vleet and Proviso East’s Keith Carter, combined for 3 for 17 for 8 points.

Van Vleet finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but had eight turnovers. Carter shot 2-for-12 and had six points and six boards.

Proviso East’s Sterling Brown led the way with a double-double, 13 points, 15 rebounds, followed by teammate, Paris Burns, who added 14 points.

“I just wanted to come out aggressive,” Brown said. “I had seen the guards were struggling, and I wanted to get my team in a rhythm like (the guards) usually do.”

I guess in the end it’s more important to have a date for the BIG dance, than what you drove to get there in….

With their win, and hopefully Simeon defeats Bloom, a dream, maybe even a fantasy matchup will be setup. Just the thought of this matchup made first-year Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce smile.

“I think everybody would like to see that dream matchup,” Boyce said.

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