Playing for the last time as a member of the Simeon Wolverines in front of the city that helped propel him to the top of the prep basketball world, Jabari Parker was good as advertised in victory. Led by Parker's 23 points, No. 1 Simeon Career Academy (28-3) held off a furious fourth quarter rally from No. 11 New Trier (28-6) to pull out a 63-54 victory Tuesday night at Chicago State University. With the win Simeon captured the Chicago supersectional championship which means the powerhouse program will be heading downstate for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. Although Simeon led throughout, they were not able to put the game out of reach until the closing moments.
Jabari's special night started before tip-off when it was announced that the future Duke Blue Devil was named one of six finalists for the Morgan Wootten Player of the Year award. The winner of the award which honors the nation's top prep basketball player and takes into consideration character, leadership, academic achievement, and service to the community will be announced on March 18th. Other boys finalists include Aaron Gordon of Archbishop Mitty (Calif.), Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison of William B. Travis (Texas), Dakari Johnson of Montverde (Fla.) and Andrew Wiggins of Huntington Prep (W.Va.).
Once the game started the Chicago State crowd, which included the Rev. Jesse Jackson and numerous other Chicago luminaries sitting court-side, was treated to a shooting clinic as the Wolverines and Trevians spent the first quarter trading threes. The three-time defending state champions found themselves in a dog fight, up just 24-21, by the time the first quarter had ended. Every time Simeon began to pull away in the second and third behind the hot shooting of Illinois-bound shooting guard Kendrick Nunn (17 points), future Princeton Tiger, Steven Cook (14 points) would lead the Trevian counterattack to keep the game within reach.
But in crunch time, it was the Trevians' senior point gaurd, Reid Berman (10 pts, 12 assists), an Amherst recruit, whose 10 fourth quarter points cut the team's deficit to four, 52-48, with just 5:29 remaining in the game. The boisterous New Trier student section tried to make this game into a mini Tobacco Road Rivalry. The crowd featured numerous students sporting that most disgusting shade of powder blue, who chanted "UNC! UNC!" every time Parker touched the ball, in reference to the Duke-bound Parker's future arch-rival, the University of North Carolina.
In the end, Simeon's size and athleticism was too much for New Trier to handle down the stretch. After Simeon answered with five straights points from Nunn and Parker the outcome of the game was never in doubt. On this night Simeon simply had too much firepower. Now its off to Peoria where Parker and the Simeon Wolverines will try to capture their fourth consecutive IHSA boys basketball state championship, a feat only accomplished by the mythical Sergio McClain and Frank Williams-led Peoria Manuel program (1994-97). But first they'll have to get past a tough No.4 ranked Proviso East (29-3) squad that defeated No. 9 West Aurora (24-7), 62-52, Tuesday night in the Class 4A Hinsdale Central boys basketball supersectional.
It has only been done one time before in Illinois from 1994-97 by Peoria Manuel, which was led by Sergio McClain and Frank Williams.
On the other side of the Class 4A bracket, No. 7 Stevenson (Lincolnshire) (28-4) advanced after defeating Boylan Catholic (Rockford), 73-67, in DeKalb, while Edwardsville High School punched its ticket downstate by knocking out No. 6 Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights) (29-4), 68-49, at ISU in Normal. The winner of the Stevenson-Edwardsville semifinal, Friday 8:15 pm, will meet the winner of the 6:15 pm game between Simeon and Proviso East Friday in the State Championship, Saturday 8:15pm. All games will be held at Carver Arena in Peoria (directions here).
After the state finals, Chicagoans will have only one more opportunity to catch Jabari Parker in action in Chicago as a prep. On April 3rd, Parker headlines this year's crop of McDonald's All-Americans. The game will be held at the United Center. Information on the McDonald's All-American game can be found here.
Tags: Aaron Gordon, Aaron Harrison, Amherst, Andrew Harrison, Andrew Wiggins, Archibishop Mitty, Boylan Catholic, Carver Arena, Chicago, Chicago State University, Dakari Johnson, DeKalb, Duke Blue Devils, Frank Williams, Hinsdale, Huntington Prep, IHSA, Illinois, ISU, Jabari Parker, Kendrick Nunn, Montverde, Morgan Wootten Player of the Year, New Trier Trevians, Normal, Northern Illinois, Peoria, Peoria Manuel, Princeton Tigers, Proviso East, Reid Berman, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sergio McClain, SImeon Wolverines, Steven Cook, Supersectional, UNC, William B. Travis