Simeon’s one weak spot at this point in the season appeared to be in the frontcourt. After beating Homewood-Flossmoor on Tuesday, Wolverines coach Robert Smith was worried that there just wasn’t enough time to get his bigs into shape.
Simeon seniors Phillip Holmes Jr. and Dylan Ingram answered the call in the Chipotle Clash of Champions quarterfinals on Friday at St. Patrick.
Holmes had five points and six rebounds, and Ingram added 10 points and five rebounds. The 6-8 Holmes and 6-6 Ingram also provided solid post defense and rim protection in No. 2 Simeon’s 57-38 victory against No. 21 St. Patrick.
“We had to work on a lot of rebounding and finishing around the basket,” Holmes said. “It worked out great in this game.”
“The H-F game really helped us,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “We hadn’t played any big guys before that. They learned they had to get a little tougher. We did a good job on [St. Patrick’s] big guys. We saw on film they kind of dominated people.”
Michigan recruit Isaiah Barnes opened the game with a steal and breakaway dunk. No spectators are allowed at the games, but it was a powerful statement in a tournament opener. The Wolverines (6-0) have started slow in several games this season. The early exclamation point may have helped change that.
“We’ve started clicking as a team,” Barnes said. “We had a couple close games early that shouldn’t have been. Today we dominated as we should.”
Barnes led Simeon with 16 points and six rebounds, and DePaul recruit Ahamad Bynum added nine points and four rebounds. Point guard Jaylen Drane controlled the game for stretches and finished with eight points and eight assists.
Simeon held the Shamrocks to just one basket over a 12-minute stretch in the second and third quarters.
“We showed today that we are definitely the No. 1 team in the state,” Barnes said.
St. Patrick junior Timaris Brown had 11 points and seven rebounds. He was clearly up for the challenge from the start. Senior Caleb Corro added 11 points, and 6-7 senior Michael Hamilton finished with nine points and 10 rebounds for the Shamrocks (8-3).
The Wolverines are the top seed in the tournament and will face Evanston in the semifinals at 11 a.m. Saturday at Notre Dame. The title game is at 7 p.m.
“Two games is a lot,” Barnes said. “It may not seem that way to a lot of people. But I’ve done it and it can be mentally draining, not just physically. You have to stay locked in but we should be good.”