By Michael O'Brien
Jabari Parker saved his virtuoso performance for Simeon’s most important game of the season.
The Argo gymnasium was loaded, all the seats sold out and standing fans were all around the upper concourse. The lights were bright and Parker delivered, in a dominant and impressive fashion that had been missing most of the season. He scored 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead No. 2 Simeon to a 69-51 win over No. 1 Young at the Class 4A Argo Sectional final Friday in Summit.
“[Parker] is just starting to fully get healthy,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “You can see his lift.”
Parker’s lift was on full display with three dunks, including an impressive windmill slam with 2:44 to play to make the score 62-42.
Smith said Parker wasn’t worried about losing Player of the Year honors to Young junior Jahlil Okafor, who finished with 13 points and five rebounds.
“Jabari said he’s won enough awards,” Smith said. “He just wants to hold that trophy at the end of the year.”
Simeon didn’t even bother to cut down the nets after the win, which is the tradition after winning a sectional title.
“We aren’t doing that,” Smith said. “We’ve still got another game to play. One more game to get Downstate.”
Parker shot 10-for-18 from the field. His teammates seemed to feed off his energized play, especially center Russell Woods, who guarded Okafor the majority of the game.
“When he came out I told him we wouldn’t have won without him in the middle,” Smith said.
Kendrick Nunn added 12 points and Jaylon Tate scored 11. Tate ran the show with a steady hand for the Wolverines (27-3), who committed only one turnover in the first half and just eight in the game.
“That’s the best game we have played,” Smith said. “This is when my teams normally are playing their best.”
LJ Peak led Young (27-4) with 20 points and seven rebounds and Miles Reynolds added nine points.
Simeon took control of the game in the middle of the second quarter. Young went over 10 minutes of play without scoring a field goal, from the 5:27 mark of the second quarter to the 2:57 mark of the third quarter. Simeon used a 20-7 run in between Young’s two baskets.
Simeon will face New Trier in the Chicago State supersectional on Tuesday. Despite the fact that the Wolverines won’t face another team as talented as Young in the rest of the tournament, Smith isn’t worried about motivation.
“We’ve got five seniors that want to make history,” Smith said. “When you have that caliber of team, you don’t have to worry about that.”