By Dan Ruane
Simeon started its journey to winning a third straight state title by brushing off the cobwebs. The Wolverines were rusty to begin with but eventually shook free of host Oak Lawn for a 64-25 victory in the opening game of the Class 4A regional semifinal.You could tell early on that we were a different team, Simeon coach Robert Smith said. Weve been going at each other for the last week and a half and (Oak Lawn) was a physical team that didnt let us get wide open shots.If not for Steve Taylor, the top-ranked Wolverines (27-1) would have trailed for most of the first quarter. Taylor made five of his first six shots while the rest of his teammates went 0-for-9 to start the game. That helped to stake Simeon to a 12-8 lead at the end of the quarter. He would finish with 16 points and 10 boards.Oak Lawn managed to stay close behind the play of Lyndell Johnson and Jacob Campbell at the guards. The pair combined to score all of the Spartans (16-11) first quarter points.Johnson and Campbell have just been exemplary as seniors for our program, Oak Lawn coach Jason Rhodes said. They did every single thing we asked of them and they set the example for our program moving forward.Smith had seen enough of his starters with the exception of Taylor so he benched the other four including Jabari Parker (15 points) and Kendrick Nunn for more than four minutes of the second quarter. His bench did not disappoint.Reggie Norris (10 points), Dennis Williams, Jaylon Tate and Dwaun Stewart came in to outscore Oak Lawn 9-2 and take a 19-10 lead before the starters eventually came back in.Thats the beauty of this team, Smith said. Jabari and Kendrick started off slow and the other guys came in and picked it up for us.The height advantage that Simeon held figured prominently in the game getting away from the Spartans in the second half. Simeon grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and started making its shots more consistently to pull away.We turned the ball over too much, Rhodes said. Their length bothered us around the glass. With that time, you need to give one shot and thats it otherwise you have no chance.Campbell led Oak Lawn with 16 points.
By Dan Ruane