Boys Basketball: Clash at UIC goes to Simeon

Story Image Simeon's Jabari Parker races inside past Young's Paul White. Patrick Gleason ~ For the Sun-Times
Story Image

The Pavilion seemed closer to a rock show than a high school basketball game Thursday night for the clash between top-ranked Simeon and No. 25 Young.

On the floor and wearing a Simeon letterman jacket, Derrick Rose sat next to John Calipari, his former coach at Memphis. Calipari’s top freshman recruit at Kentucky, former Perspectives-MSA star Anthony Davis, was among the estimated 6,000 fans in attendance.

The spotlight belonged squarely on the present. The two marquee players, Simeon’s Jabari Parker and Young’s Jahlil Okafor, did not disappoint.

Parker just had a bit more help.

The 6-8 junior scored 15 points and added nine rebounds, four blocks and two assists as the Wolverines broke open a one-point halftime lead with a third-quarter flourish that keyed a 62-55 victory.

Simeon sharpshooter Kendrick Nunn drilled three three-pointers in scoring a team-best 19 points for the Wolverines (8-0). Marquette-bound 6-8 center Steve Taylor scored 16 points and contributed five rebounds and five steals.

Parker registered two blocks and a steal and scored on a drive during a 12-6 Simeon run that pushed its lead to 38-31.

“Our third quarters have been huge for us the whole year,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “We try to navigate that quarter to really take control.”

Okafor, the 6-11 sophomore, scored a game-high 20 points and recorded nine rebounds and three blocked shots for the Dolphins (4-2).

“He’s great,” Smith said of Okafor. “I don’t believe there’s another better player in the country in that class.

“I have tremendous respect for his game.”

Parker struggled with his shot, making only 3 of 10 shots in the first half. But he showcased a complete game that proved too much for the Dolphins to overcome.

Junior Jaylon Tate, a De La Salle transfer, opened the fourth quarter with a rare four-point play. “He’s starting to understand our system and what’s needed out there,” Smith said.

Taylor scored on a crucial short jumper in the lane on a Tate assist with 1:03 remaining after Young used an 11-1 run to pull within 53-50 with 1:30 to play. Jelani Neely converted 4-of-4 free throws in the final seconds to secure the victory.

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