CHICAGO -- Simeon coach Robert Smith walked from his team’s season-opening 69-51 win over Hillcrest like most of the crowd at the UIC on Saturday.
At times, Simeon was impressive, blocking shots, grabbing rebounds, connecting on passes and soaring to the rim for dunks and acrobatic layups. In other words, it looked like the No. 1 team in the country. For other stretches, Simeon looked ordinary and prone to the errant passes and turnovers that any other high school team is.
Smith felt overall it was an OK start to the season, but he didn’t believe his Wolverines played like they were the top-ranked team in the nation.
“No, not today,” Smith said. “I think Findlay Prep and Oak Hill have a little bit of an advantage. But when we get to the point where we’re getting ready to play Findlay Prep, we should be playing like the No. 1 team in the country. Those guys got some talent. We got some talent, but Findlay has five guys in the top 50 in the country. I think by the time we get to that point we’ll be fine.”
Simeon may not be as loaded top to bottom as those teams, but it does possess arguably the nation’s top player regardless of class in junior Jabari Parker. And on Saturday, Parker continued to show why everyone’s endlessly touting his abilities.
With a mixture of 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers and a few dunks to please the crowd, Parker scored a game-high 26 points, including 17 in the first half.
“Jabari right now is more aggressive than I’ve seen him since I’ve known him,” Smith said. “He understands he’s the best player in the country. There’s a lot riding on his back. He’s just trying not to disappoint his family and Simeon, period.”
Count Hillcrest coach Don Houston among those impressed.
“He’s a man amongst boys out there,” Houston said. “He’s a great player. I’ve seen him some moves out there that high school kids just don’t do.”
Simeon (1-0) was sloppy early, committing eight turnovers in the first quarter, but Hillcrest (4-2) came out even tighter allowing the Wolverines to build an early 15-6 lead. Simeon extended its advantage to 27-11 midway through the second quarter.
For much of the second half, Hillcrest hung with Simeon. The Wolverines outscored Hillcrest just 35-32 in the final two quarters.
“We didn’t come out as strong as we normally do,” Houston said. “Once we realized we can probably play with these guys, we played with them the rest of the way. I just wish we had a better showing in the first half.”
Hillcrest was led by Jayon’e Troutman and Jovan Mooring, who each had a team-high 13 points.
No. 5 Curie 81, Gary Bowman 71, OT: The Condors (1-0) survived their season opener behind a career-high 30 points by Devin Foster. Foster was 19-of-23 from the free-throw line. Curie sophomore Cliff Alexander had nine points and seven rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Bowman’s DeJuan Marrero, who is a DePaul recruit, had 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
No. 18 Homewood-Flossmoor 57, No. 13 Morgan Park 47: The Vikings (5-1) were led by Maurius Hills (16 points) and Tyrone Sherman (16 points). Billy Garrett Jr., a DePaul recruit, scored a game-high 18 points for Morgan Park (1-1).