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 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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