Simeon guard Kejuan Clements knows that the Wolverines’ win over Young and Orr’s win against Curie on Friday at Chicago State in the Public League playoff semifinals sets up Simeon vs. Orr, the matchup that basketball fans have been waiting to see all season.
“It’s what the city wanted, the best of the West [Side] vs. the best of the South [Side],” Clements said. “We have to want it more.”
No. 1 Simeon beat No. 4 Young 64-53. The Wolverines (24-3) jumped out to a 17-4 lead. Young closed within three at the half but then Simeon dominated the third quarter.
Despite an impressive amount of talent on both teams, the play was sluggish. The teams were a combined 0-for-17 from three-point range.
“It was the second worst game we’ve played all year,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “ It just was a terrible game on our end. I thought defensively we were good. Offensively we were terrible.”
Messiah Jones led the Wolverines with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Talen Horton-Tucker added 16 points and nine rebounds.
“It’s just a wake up call that everyone isn’t going to lay down for us,” Horton-Tucker said. “We have to keep our composure and close everyone down. It is always a revenge game when you play Young, they beat us in the state championship game [last season].”
Javon Freeman led the Dolphins (22-7) with 18 points and six rebounds. Sophomore Tyler Beard added 13 points and four rebounds.
No. 3 Orr dominated No. 2 Curie 71-59 in the first semifinal. The Spartans played with intensity and precision in the first half, jumping out to a 38-24 lead.
“We knew that we had to throw the first punch,” Orr coach Lou Adams said. “We played probably the best first half we’ve ever played and we needed it.”
Senior Dannie Smith led the Spartans (23-3) with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Raekwon Drake scored 16 and Chase Adams added 14.
“We owed Curie, they beat us the second game of the season,” Smith said. “As the leader I got the team together and we came out and we wanted to win. We want to be the first team in Orr history to win the city championship and it is looking good right now.”
Maurice Commander led the Condors (23-4) with 16 points and Marquise Walker added 12.
Orr has wanted the chance to play Simeon all season. The Wolverines have traveled around the country and proven to be one of the nation’s best teams. They haven’t lost to an in-state opponent.
“We want to prove that if we play hard we can be the number one team in the country,” Dannie Smith said. “We have some great players.”
Horton-Tucker says it is business as usual for the defending city champion Wolverines.
“We keep to ourselves, we don’t talk much,” Horton-Tucker said. “If they wanted us, they got what they wanted. At Simeon it is city and state championship or bust. We won city the last two years. I just want to win state.”
Orr will face Simeon in the city title game at 4 p.m. on Sunday at Chicago State.