By Michael O’Brien
NORMAL, Ill. — Simeon generally feels at home in central Illinois.
The Wolverines spend five days in Pontiac every December and make regular trips to the state tournament in March.
But Simeon had never played in the Class 4A llinois State supersectional before Tuesday, so coach Robert Smith decided to make things as normal as possible for his team. The Wolverines spent Monday night at their usual hotel in Pontiac and then drove over to Normal for the game.
From then on out, things went poorly. A season that started with the highest of expectations fell apart at the hands of confident and poised Normal as the Ironmen upset Simeon 64-50.
‘‘No one thought we could beat a team with three Big Ten players,’’ Normal senior David Boyd said. ‘‘They were going to dominate us, shut us down. They poked the bear. We were out here to prove everyone wrong.’’
Normal led by 10 after three quarters. Simeon (28-4) was never able to get closer than eight points.
The Ironmen (32-1) focused on Wolverines center Edward Morrow and dared Simeon to make outside shots. The Wolverines shot 1-for-15 from three-point range.
‘‘That’s what everyone has tried to do to us lately,’’ Simeon coach Robert Smith said. ‘‘We just didn’t make any shots. That’s it.’’
Tyler Seibring, a 6-8 senior signed with Elon, was charged with defending Morrow.
‘‘I had never played [Morrow] before,’’ Seibring said. ‘‘I was just hoping to hold my own.’’
Seibring scored 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. The Nebraska-bound Morrow finished with seven points and five rebounds.
Normal shot 26-for-33 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
‘‘[The fourth quarter] just went so slow,’’ Boyd said. ‘‘I would look up and see five minutes were left and then the clock just wouldn’t move.’’
Alex Peacock led the Ironmen with 25 points and Duane Farrington added 10 points.
Zack Norvell led Simeon with 11 points and Evan Gilyard added 10.
‘‘Simeon has three Division I guys and it is Derrick Rose’s school,’’ Normal coach Dave Witzig said. ‘‘We know how great they are. The key was our guards were able to handle the pressure.’’
The South Suburban sectional winner has had a difficult time at the ISU supersectional since the tournament was divided into four classes. Tyler Ulis and Marian Catholic lost close games in the ISU supersectional the past two seasons.
‘‘It’s tough to come down here and play a great team that’s pretty much at home,’’ Smith said. ‘‘We had a great season, we just didn’t accomplish any of our goals. Didn’t win city or state.’’
Normal clinched its first appearance at the state semifinals and will play Geneva, a 57-52 double-overtime winner over Lake Park, on Friday at Carver Arena in Peoria.
For stories on more supersectionals, go to www.highschoolcubenews.com
Tournament at a glance
Stevenson 62, Riverside-Brookfield 45
Bolingbrook 50, West Aurora 49
Geneva 57, Lake Park 52, 2 OT
Normal 64, Simeon 50
Stevenson vs. Bolingbrook, 6:30
Normal vs. Geneva, 8:15
Morgan Park 64, Hillcrest 53
Belleville Althoff 79, Mahomet-Seymour 49
Rockford Lutheran 49, Peoria Manual 41
St. Joseph 39, St. Patrick 38
Morgan Park vs. Althoff , 12:15
Rockford Lutheran vs. St. Joseph, 2