By Michael O'Brien
Unlike a lot of high-level high school basketball programs, things have been relatively calm at Simeon. The No. 1 Wolverines have not had a lot of players in trouble or suspended, especially during their high school careers.
So that made it especially surprising Sunday when five Simeon players walked out in street clothes before the Wolverines Public League quarterfinal game against No. 14 Marshall.
Kendrick Nunn, Jaleni Neely, Jaylon Tate, Lawrence Briggs and Tyre Washington were all suspended for breaking a team rule.
"Those young men made a mistake," Simeon coach Robert Smith said. "They are apologetic. It was nothing illegal, they just broke a team rule."
Neely and Nunn are starters and Tate is generally the first man in off the bench. The Wolverines weathered their absence without a second thought, beating Marshall 73-62 to advance to Wednesdays semifinals.
Simeon (23-1) opened the game with a 14-0 run. Marshall managed to cut the lead to eight early in the third quarter but the Wolverines responded with a 12-3 run to retake control.
"This team is unbelievable," Smith said. "No one was in a hurry. We had confidence that the guys playing could step in. We lost a lot (without the suspended five playing) but losing the game was not a concern."
Junior phenom Jabari Parker was sensational with 33 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. He was 10-for-16 from the field. Steve Taylor scored 11 and grabbed 14 rebounds. Kendall Pollard added 10 points and four blocks.
Seniors Dwaun Stewart (seven points, six rebounds) and Reggie Norris (nine points) started in place of Nunn and Neely. Norris started a number of games while Neely was injured earlier in the season, but Stewart had not received any significant playing time in his career.
Milton Doyle led the Commandos with 19 points, but scored just two in the second half. He appeared to injure his leg at some point in the third quarter and was limping, but stayed in the game. Korbin McClain added 13 points and 11 rebounds and Derrick Miles scored 12.
Simeon will play Orr Wednesday at DePaul. Smith didnt say whether the five suspended players will be back on the court.
"We dont know yet," Smith said. "We strive for discipline."