PEORIA, Ill. -- The state had its shot at Simeon and missed.
Simeon secured its second consecutive Class 4A state championship with a 48-39 win over Warren on Saturday, and it seems improbable the state’s teams will keep the Wolverines from winning the next two state titles.
With plenty of talent returning, Simeon is only going to get better and that’s crushing news for everyone else.
The Wolverines (30-2) began this season as the state’s No. 1 team, hit a bump in the road with losses to Benet and Whitney Young, but -- in Simeon fashion -- put it back together in time to win another state title. It was the Wolverines’ fourth championship in the last six seasons.
“This was probably the hardest one because everyone just picked us to win from day one,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “[Derrick Rose's] senior year was the same way. Last year was fun because no one gave us a chance.
“We just keep our composure. We respect the game. That’s basically what is. We respect the game because we know it can be taken away from us.”
Rose set the standard at Simeon with his back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007. On Saturday, sophomore Jabari Parker matched Rose. Parker obtained his second title in as many years, and he’s the reason Simeon will be favored to win two more.
“It’s very special to me because that’s somebody I looked up to growing up,” Parker said of tying Rose. “I’m very thankful to be among his ranks to be a state champion. I want another. I’m hungry for another one.”
Parker started and averaged 9.3 points while helping Simeon to a state championship last year as a freshman. This year he led the Wolverines to the title while averaging a team-best 15.3 points. On Saturday, he scored a team-high 12 points and added five rebounds and three blocks.
What Parker could be next year and the year beyond is something Smith believes the state has never seen.
“I think he’s going to be the best player that has ever played in the state of Illinois,” Smith said.
Simeon’s victory Saturday wasn’t of the spectacular variety. The Wolverines did enough to get by.
Simeon opened the game strong, scoring 10 points in the first 4:04 and led 10-3 at one point. Warren battled back in the second quarter and cut the Wolverines’ lead to two points late in the first half and again early in the second half.
After that, it was a struggle for both teams to score. Warren went for five points in the third quarter and 19 in the second half. Simeon scored 24 second-half points thanks to a handful of points late in the fourth quarter.
“We couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm,” said Warren’s Jeremiah Jackson, who had eight points and seven rebounds. “There were a couple times where it looked like we going to, but we just couldn’t pull it out. Simeon played harder than us.”
Darius Paul (11 points), Brandon Ferguson (nine points) and JoVaughn Gaines (six points, seven rebounds) contributed for Warren (31-4).
Rashawn McElrath (nine points), Steve Taylor (eight points, 11 rebounds) and Darien Walker (10 points) contributed for Simeon.
Glenbard East third: Glenbard East (28-4) defeated Normal Community 53-50 in the third-place game.
Parker Musselman (18 points, seven rebounds) led Normal Community.