Boys Basketball: Simeon holds off Proviso East for third straight 4A titleSteve Taylor of Simeon throws down early in the game against Proviso East. Patrick Gleason ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 17, 2012 11:05PM
PEORIA, Ill. — Simeon and Proviso East staged one of the all-time great state championship games Saturday at Carver Arena.
Pirates junior Sterling Brown drained a three with four seconds to play, but Proviso East was forced to watch the final seconds tick off the clock as the ball rolled under the basket. There were no timeouts left and time had run out. Simeon had a 50-48 victory and a third consecutive Class 4A state championship.
The win gave Simeon a sixth state championship, the most in state history. It also gave Simeon coach Robert Smith his fifth title, the most by one coach in state history, breaking the record held by East St. Louis coach Bennie Lewis since 1989.
For three quarters, all of that history-making seemed to be in severe doubt, as the Pirates matched Simeon’s every move. The game was tied at the half and Proviso East led by five after three quarters. There was a sense that Simeon’s dynasty was coming to end.
Then Steve Taylor found a way to drain an awkward hook shot from under the basket. It was a shot he’s made several times this season, even if it looks lucky. It gave Simeon (33-1) a 43-41 lead and the Pirates immediately seemed to tighten up.
“After that shot I think my team just fed off my emotions,” Taylor said. “We had the lead back and [Proviso East] got nervous.”
Simeon junior Jabari Parker’s dunk with 12 seconds to play seemed to put the exclamation point on the win, but the officials called a technical for hanging on the rim.
“It didn’t faze me,” Parker said. “They had to do something to keep the game alive. They didn’t want to see us win again.”
Brown hit both free throws after the technical and then drained the three, but then time ran out.
“I told Sterling that we needed a three,” Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said. “He had no problems with the shot. I told him we needed a delay too. I should have told him to throw the ball up in the stands afterwards.”
Brown scored 25 points for the Pirates (32-1), shooting 10 for 18 from the field.
“Sterling Brown was an amazing player,” Parker said.
But it seems that may have been Smith’s plan all along.
“[Sterling] was outstanding, he really was,” Smith said. “Keith Carter didn’t have a good game tonight, did he? We wanted to shut him down. He makes them go.”
Carter scored eight points on 4-for-12 shooting. The Proviso East point guard had three turnovers and no assists.
Taylor scored 12 and grabbed 15 rebounds for Simeon. Parker finished with 15 points and five rebounds. Jaleni Neely added 10 points and Jaylon Tate scored eight off the bench.
In a curious incident after the win, all of Simeon’s players removed their shoes and placed them in a line next to the podium set up on center court. IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman picked up the shoes and removed them.
“They said they wanted to leave their mark on the court,” Smith said.
Contributing: Clyde Travis