Simeon beats Lemont, punches ticket to state finals

Senior Aviyon Morris made sure to walk over and wave goodbye to Lemont’s large student section after the Wolverines’ 52-47 victory in a Class 3A supersectional Monday at UIC’s Credit Union 1 Arena.

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Simeon’s Aviyon Morris (0) holds the trophy and celebrates among teammates after beating Lemont.

Simeon’s Aviyon Morris (0) holds the trophy and celebrates among teammates after beating Lemont.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Simeon senior Aviyon Morris made sure to walk over and wave goodbye to Lemont’s large student section after the Wolverines’ 52-47 victory in a Class 3A supersectional Monday at UIC’s Credit Union 1 Arena.

Morris scored only three points, but he was one of the Simeon players most responsible for ending Lemont’s season. The 5-7 senior is the most disruptive defensive force in the area.

Morris teamed with junior Michael Ratliff to help hold Lemont sophomore Nojus Indrusaitis to 10 points. He was 3-for-14 shooting.

‘‘He’s a great player,’’ Morris said. ‘‘We just wanted to chase him and make him put the ball on the floor a little bit. Michael did a great job on him when I was out. That was a key to our success.’’

Miles Rubin, a 6-8 junior, led the Wolverines (28-5) with 22 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Rubin has been one of Simeon’s best players all season, but coach Robert Smith preferred to use him off the bench.

Rubin entered the starting lineup in the regional final. He scored six points in the first two minutes against Lemont (27-8) to help the Wolverines open a 13-0 lead.

‘‘It was important for us to get out to a quick start and play with a lot of energy,’’ Rubin said.

Lemont was forced to play catch-up the rest of the way. A three-pointer by junior Conor Murray with 3:14 left cut Simeon’s lead to 44-40, then two free throws by Indrusaitis with 33 seconds to play pulled Lemont to two points.

Lemont forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds play, then threw the ball out of bounds. Wolverines junior Jalen Griffith made two free throws with 16 seconds left to seal the Wolverines’ victory.

‘‘There was a little mental lapse that happens when you get a big lead,’’ Smith said. ‘‘Guys get lackadaisical.’’

Ratliff finished with nine points and Griffith with seven. Junior Wesley Rubin added four points, eight rebounds and five assists.

‘‘When we started this in June, nobody gave us a chance,’’ Smith said. ‘‘We went winless at Riverside-Brookfield this summer. But we got together as a group and knew once we got to practice and the guys bought in that we would be fine.’’

Matas Castillo led Lemont with 16 points, and Joseph Pender added seven.

Simeon senior Jaylen Drane fouled out in the fourth quarter. There were nine juniors on the court to finish the game, so the teams might meet up in the supersectional round again next season.

‘‘Starting slow is always bad,’’ Indrusaitis said. ‘‘We should have picked up the tempo right from the beginning and came at them harder.’’

Lemont coach Rick Runaas praised Simeon’s style of play.

‘‘It was kind of old-school basketball,’’ Runaas said. ‘‘It was nice to see a big team play big. When you are big, you should take advantage.’’

Simeon will face Metamora in the Class 3A semifinals Friday.

‘‘Some teams I’ve had before were just satisfied with winning this game and went downstate and didn’t do what they were supposed to do,’’ Smith said. ‘‘So we need to stay locked in and get prepared.’’

Watch the final minute of Simeon vs. Lemont:

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