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Evanston starts hot, crushes Simeon

Evanston's Nojel Eastern (20) gets past Simeon's Kejuan Clements (0). Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

The talent gap between the elite city and suburban teams is smaller than it has been in several years. There isn’t any room for distraction, which Simeon found out on Saturday in the City-Suburban Showdown at Robert Morris in Arlington Heights.

Evanston cruised to a 56-38 victory over the Wolverines. Simeon was outplayed in the first half and decided to pack it in and focus on Sunday’s city title game after falling far behind early in the third quarter.

“With the schedule [Simeon] has you know there are exterior factors,” Evanston coach Mike Ellis said. “So that was definitely something we wanted to take advantage of.”

Evanston led 30-20 at half and then dominated the opening minutes of the third quarter.

“If we got down too much we were going to sit the guys at the end and just rest,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “No use in fighting. We did as much as we could do. At this point it is the end of the season and we are going to try and win the city championship and focus on state.”

Evanston out-rebounded Simeon 34-27.

“Messiah [Jones] had 17 or 18 rebounds yesterday,” Evanston senior Nojel Eastern said. “We had to make sure he didn’t have that today. We may not be the tallest team but we do everything fundamentally well.”

Malcolm Townsel led the Wildkits (23-3) with 20 points. Chris Hamil scored 15. Eastern had four points and nine rebounds.

“Evanston played well, you can’t take that from them,” Smith said. “We haven’t played anyone that shot the ball like that. They must have had a magnet on the ball.”

The Wildkits were 20 for 45 from the field and 8 for 18 from three point range. Simeon was 0 for 11 from three.

“Mentally I just think we are ready for tomorrow,” Smith said. “We are playing Morgan Park and our kids are really juiced up for that game. It’s not like we are playing Kenwood, we are playing Morgan Park. I don’t know what the outcome would have been if we were at our best. [Evanston] scouted us real well, you could tell.”

Junior Kezo Brown led Simeon (23-3) with 16 points and Talen-Horton Tucker scored nine.