By Patrick Z. McGavin
To a player Simeon was not going to get caught looking ahead. Marist certainly earned the Wolverines attention after posting stunning victories over Public League powers Curie and Bogan.The RedHawks hopes were dashed by a 19-1 Simeon second-quarter run that catapulted the two-time defending Class 4A champions past Marist 65-44 Friday in the Class 4A Argo Sectional Friday night before a standing-room-only crowd exceeding 2,400.No. 1 Simeon advances to the Chicago State Supersectional Tuesday against Evanston.Junior sharpshooter Kendrick Nunn drilled two three-pointers and scored 11 points during the second-quarter burst that propelled the Wolverines to a commanding 36-17 lead at the break.Nunn finished with 16 points.Feeding off its boisterous crowd, Marist (26-6) drilled its first two three-point attempts and enjoyed separate four-point leads in the early going. They weathered one early Simeon run after sophomore Nic Weishar (12 points, six rebounds) nailed a three-pointer that pulled Marist within 17-16 with 6:03 to play in the second quarter.Marist never scored again from the field during the first half. The Wolverines (30-1) harassed Marist to miss seven of its eight field-goal attempts and forced six turnovers in the second quarter. Nunn added a conventional three-point play and star Jabari Parker punctuated the run with a thundering dunk.It was a lot of everything, Marist coach Gene Nolan said about the scoring drought.This is probably the best defensive team Ive had since Ive been coaching, Simeon coach Robert Smith said. The team with Derrick (Rose) was great with pressure but this team can play so many different styles: man, zone, pressure.Simeon registered eight blocks and seven steals. Steve Taylor (nine points) recorded 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Emerging junior Kendall Pollard contributed seven points and six rebounds.Smiths point about his teams defensively versatility was driven home with a vengeance during the second quarter. Theyre so long and theyre so athletic and so difficult to score on, Nolan said. Because we didnt shoot well, it hurt us defensively there because we werent efficient on offense, and they were able to score off rebounds and turnovers.After Parker opened the fourth quarter with a gorgeous step-back jumper that equaled the games largest lead at 51-29, Marist came alive and shocked the Wolverines with a 10-0 run.Smith refused to call time out and his players responded. Jelani Neely ended the run with a drive in traffic with 5:03 to play. Parker, who scored seven of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, drilled turnaround jumper in the lane.Weve prided ourselves on our defense, but also the fact that you cant key on one person against us, Smith said. Jabari did his thing, Kendrick and Steve Taylor, but Jelani also was huge for us. Give a lot of credit to Marist. That coach did a great job, and this time of year its not about who has the most talent but who wants it the most. We really wanted this game tonight.Marist shot 7-for-22 on three-pointers. Senior guard Tyler Oden scored a team-best 15 points.
By Patrick Z. McGavin