Boys Basketball: North Chicago knocks off SimeonNorth Chicago's JayQuan McCloud drives to the basket against Simeon Monday, June 18, 2012 at the DePaul Team Shootout at Attack Athletics in Chicago. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 20, 2012 11:11AM
Jabari Parker — the nation’s best high-school basketball player — was not in uniform for Simeon on Monday.
He and Simeon star guard Kendrick Nunn are both training with USA Basketball this summer and so weren’t playing for the Wolverines on Day 1 of the DePaul Team Camp prep boys basketball tourney.
That said, the three-time defending state champions in Class 4A still would be huge favorites to beat every team in Lake County with what they put on the floor Monday night against North Chicago at the Attack Athletics.
Which makes North Chicago’s 45-41 victory to complete a 3-0 showing in pool play by the Warhawks impressive.
Down 43-41 with 5.3 seconds left in the game, a missed free throw by North Chicago’s JayQuan McCloud was knocked out of bounds and the Hawks were given possession.
Simeon coach Robert Smith wanted a foul called on North Chicago on the play, and protested by bringing his players to halfcourt and allowing the winners an uncontested layup at the buzzer.
“I’m very excited for the kids,” said Hawks coach King Coleman, whose team also beat North Lawndale from Chicago 44-31 and Springfield Lanphier 58-50 in pool play.
“The great thing about this group is they buy into the idea is that every game is an opportunity. The intensity we want to play at is still not there yet, but we’re getting closer.”
Kurt Hall had 12 second-half points and a game-high 17. He was the best player on the floor after intermission. JaVairius Amos-Mays added 11, JayQuan McCloud eight and Travaris Knox — a transfer from Milwaukee — had six points, all in a 14-0 first-half run that put the winners in command.
“It feels really good to beat them,” said Hall. “Everybody talks about ‘Simeon this’ and ‘Simeon that.’ I think we gave them a reason to talk about North Chicago.”
Amos -Mays agreed.
“If feels excellent. Even though Jabari and Kendrick weren’t here tonight, we showed we can compete with them,” Mays said. “I’d really like to see them in a real game during the season.”
For his part, Simeon’s coach was somewhat complimentary toward the victors.
“North Chicago played hard. They’re not very tall, but they do well with what they have,” Smith said. “ They’re going to make it tough for teams in (Class) 3A (smaller schools).
“We were playing without Jabari and Kendrick, and Jaylon (Tate) and Kendall (Pollard) didn’t play in the second half, so it’s hard to judge,” Smith said about North Chicago’s talent level.
On the North Chicago side, Coleman wasn’t totally happy with the fact that his players sometimes fall into one-on-one gamesmanship.
“Hall, Mays and McCloud are meshing well together,” King said. “Jarrod (Coleman) is doing a good job being a force in the paint and rebounding, and Knox really impressed me today. “He showed me something I haven’t seen from his all summer.”