Simeon shakes off pesky Lane, rides Ahamad Bynum to quarterfinals

SHARE Simeon shakes off pesky Lane, rides Ahamad Bynum to quarterfinals
simeon_CST_020819_1.jpg

Simeon’s Ahamad Bynum (12) goes in for the dunk against Lane Tech during their 66-59 victory in Chicago, Thursday, February 7, 2019. | Kevin Tanaka/For the Sun Times

Midway through the second quarter, Simeon looked shaken and confused, trailing by double digits to an undersized but hot-shooting Lane squad.

Midway through the third quarter, thanks to 22 consecutive points, the three-time defending city champions were back on track to advance to the quarterfinals of the Public League Playoffs.

That they eventually did, holding off the Indians in the second half to win 66-59.

“I knew they could shoot the ball, and we’ve been playing from behind early anyway, so it wasn’t a big thing for us,” Wolverines coach Robert Smith said. “We just picked up the pressure, that’s all, and made them have to do other stuff — made them have to handle the ball a little bit more, took away the three-point line, and made them drive.”

Antonio Reeves tallied a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double for No. 16 Simeon (15-13), but it was sophomore Ahamad Bynum — only a couple weeks removed from an extended injury absence — who impressively led the way. Bynum finished with 22 points, including 14 in the second-half, on 8-of-13 shooting.

PHOTO GALLERY

“Bynum, every time we scored, it just seemed like he had a contested answer,” Lane coach Nick LoGalbo said. “Our hands were up; he just made really tough shots.”

LoGalbo’s Indians (15-9) did not replicate that same success. After making four of their first seven three-point attempts, they regressed to a miserable 6-for-21 line from deep the rest of the way. With big man Vuk Djuric completely neutralized inside by Simeon’s athleticism, that was an inefficiency Lane could not afford.

It also didn’t help that the underdog visitors unraveled when Simeon suddenly launched a full-court press upon them out of a second-quarter timeout, called when Lane was leading by a shocking 26-14 margin. At halftime five minutes later, the score was 26-33.

“We were a little bit surprised — they knocked down a bunch of shots at the beginning of the quarter,” Reeves said. “We just had to rearrange our defense and figure out how to get to our shooters.”

“When we started pressing, they couldn’t handle the pressure,” Bynum added. “We started getting fast breaks, stops and then slowed things down and ran our sets.”

Lane’s Jimmy Mulvaney led a bit of a surge in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of his 17 total points in quick succession to keep the Indians within shouting distance, but Simeon did enough down the stretch to keep things from getting too dramatic.

“We competed at a really high level and we had our chances,” LoGalbo said. “When we look back at the tape, that little four-minute stretch in the second quarter, if we handle pressure and we stay locked in, I think it’s a different turnout.”

Smith said his team played “not to lose, instead of playing the game to win” in the final minutes. Considering their half-dozen losses by three points or fewer already this season, that hesitancy was understandable.

But a repeat next Wednesday — of either the ice-cold start or the unconvincing finish — might not turn out quite as well. Simeon will be an underdog for the first time in years in this tournament on the road against No. 4 Young, which rallied from a slight deficit of its own to beat upstart Payton in Thursday’s second-round action.

“It’s just winning five games. You’re just taking it game by game,” Smith said. “We’ve lost so many close games, they’re trying to make that doesn’t happen again.”

The Latest
He has allowed two runs or fewer in seven consecutive starts and has pitched at least six innings in five consecutive starts — the longest stretch by a Cub since Yu Darvish (seven) from July 31 to Sept. 4, 2020.
SNEED EXCLUSIVE: Watch for more than 500 items of sports memorabilia collected by Da Coach and culled from the walls of his shuttered namesake Gold Coast restaurant to go up for auction soon!
Dominga Flores, 55, was fatally struck at 31st and Kedzie Avenue while on her way to work early Thursday.
Abortion rights have become the focus of the race for court seats from two suburban Chicago districts.
The policy comes just in time for Edwina Mitchell, a food protection employee for the city’s Department of Public Health. “It means everything. I already feel a little stress-free,” said the mother of a 4-year-old and who is due to give birth to her second child in January.