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Simeon and Whitney Young Advance to State Basketball Championship

09 March 2022

Congratulations to the Wolverines and the Dolphins!

The Wolverines

By Michael Wojtychiw

Simeon coach Robert Smith admitted that last summer, after his squad had had a couple of rough outings in summer shootouts and tournaments, not much was expected out of his 2021-22 squad.

“When we started this in June, nobody gave us a chance,” he said. “But we got together as a group and we knew from the start that once we got to practice and guys bought into what we wanted to do, it’d be fine. This has been our goal to get to this point.”

A man standing on a basket ball court
Photo Courtesy: CPS / Reno Miller X2XSports

The team continues to exceed expectations, taking down Lemont 52-47 in the Class 3A Super-Sectional at Credit Union 1 Arena.

“This is going to be a great experience for us,” Smith said. “These guys have never been downstate and don’t know what it feels like. We talked about it about a month ago to get the feel and prepare them for what it’s going to be like in college, so it’s going to be an eye-opener for us.” 

Simeon used their side advantage to outrebound Lemont 26-18 and hold a 32-14 points in the paint differential. They also committed only eight turnovers on the night.

While the Wolverines held a 40-28 lead going into the final period, tough defense from Lemont tightened the game. Simeon made several crucial free throws in the final minutes to seal their victory.

A Lemont basketball player guarding a Wolverine player
Photo Courtesy: CPS / Reno Miller X2XSports

Miles Rubin led all scorers with 22 points and added seven rebounds, while Michael Ratliff added nine points and five rebounds and Wesley Rubin grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists. 

“I was just thinking about shooting those free throws down the stretch,” Miles Rubin said. “I shoot a lot of free throws every day and that prepared me for this moment.”

The Wolverines face off against Metamora in the semi-finals and will be looking for their eighth state title and first since 2012-13. 

Kenwood and Whitney Young, along with Simeon, have arguably been the best three basketball teams in the city this year. Following Simeon’s victory earlier in the evening, the two teams met for the third time this season after splitting the first two games. 

Young used its experience to pull out the deciding match, winning 75-62 to earn a trip downstate.

“We watched a lot of film on them but it wasn’t about what they were going to do to us,’’ Young’s Xavier Amos said. ‘‘It was about what we were going to do. So we locked in and we’re going to Champaign.”

A player shooting free throws
Photo Courtesy: CPS / Reno Miller X2XSports

Young took the lead early, pulling ahead 31-19 with three-and-a-half minutes to go until the half, but the Broncos slowly started to mount a comeback.

With around six minutes left, Kenwood’s Niel Davis tied the game at 53, the only time all night that Young hadn’t led. However, A.J. Casey put the Dolphins up with a basket on the next trip down the floor and ignited a 22-9 run to end the game.

A Kenwood player shooting the ball into a hoop
Photo Courtesy: CPS / Reno Miller X2XSports

Amos led the way with 19 points and five rebounds, while Dalen Davis added 18 points and seven assists, Daniel Johnson 15 points and nine rebounds and Casey 14 points, five rebounds and six assists. Darrin Ames had 21 to lead Kenwood and Davius Loury had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Dolphins will take on Barrington in the state semifinals.

Dolphins team members holding a championship plaque
Photo Courtesy: CPS / Reno Miller X2XSports

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