Robert Smith goes out on top: Simeon beats Kenwood in OT to win the city title

As it has so often since he took over the Simeon program in 2004, history turned Robert Smith’s way. His team buckled down defensively in overtime, not allowing Kenwood a field goal.

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Simeon’s Wes Rubin celebrates after the Wolverines defeat Kenwood in the Public League championship game.

Simeon’s Wes Rubin celebrates after the Wolverines defeat Kenwood in the Public League championship game.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Simeon coach Robert Smith’s storybook ending was slipping away Saturday. The retiring coach, who has won a record seven city titles and six state championships, was faced with the prospect of a humiliating collapse in his final Public League game.

Kenwood guard Dai Dai Ames’ drained a dagger three-pointer at the top of the key to tie the game. The Broncos’ fans went wild. Then Simeon failed to score on its last possession.

The Wolverines had led by 20 to start the fourth quarter, but the city championship was going to overtime.

As it has so often since he took over the Simeon program in 2004, history turned Smith’s way. His team buckled down defensively in overtime, not allowing Kenwood a field goal.

Senior Wes Rubin sealed it with a dunk and Simeon beat Kenwood 72-64 at Credit Union 1 Arena to win the city title. Smith went out on top, at least in the Public League.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Smith said. “It probably will later. Earlier today I was thinking about games I played in before and all the seasons I’ve coached.”

Smith has stressed that this season is about the kids, not his farewell tour. The players have repeatedly said they haven’t felt extra pressure to make sure that Smith’s final season was a success.

“There wasn’t extra stress,” Rubin said. “We knew what we had to do, and we’ve known since day one. We came out here and accomplished our goal. But that dunk at the end was definitely an exclamation point.”

Smith agreed.

“[That win] did feel better than usual,” Smith said. “We did it. After everything we’ve been through all year our defense held up in those last two minutes of overtime.”

Rubin led Simeon with 21 points and six rebounds. His twin brother, Miles, added 15 points, six rebounds and five blocks. Guards Sam Lewis and Jalen Griffith each scored 11.

“[Smith] deserved it,” Griffith said. “This was his last one, and he had to go out with a win.”

Ames led Kenwood with 22 points and Isaiah Green scored 11 in the fourth quarter to spearhead the comeback. Junior Chris Riddle added 10 points off the bench.

“People like to say a lot of negatives about Chicago,” Kenwood coach Mike Irvin said. “But this was positive. This is what it is about, everyone supporting these kids. Two teams playing in a packed house. That was good for Chicago.”

Kenwood has never won a city title. This is the second title-game appearance for the Broncos, who lost to Simeon in 2016 as well.

“We are building something special over here,” Irvin said. “Keep watching, it is coming. We are going to keep our eyes on the prize. The plan was to win city. We didn’t win it. But we are going to win a state championship. We won’t let the fans down. There is still something to look forward to.”

Simeon and Kenwood are both top contenders in the state playoffs. The Wolverines are in Class 3A, Kenwood is in 4A. Simeon lost in the state semifinals last year.

“We will enjoy this for a few days and then we will regroup and try to fix some things and try to go win another state championship,” Smith said.

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