Marist coach Gene Nolan knew Simeon was a strong defensive team from their meeting Feb. 23 at the City-Suburban Showdown.
A week into playoff mode, Simeon showed the RedHawks another level, one Simeon guard Jaylon Tate called “the best man-to-man defense we played all year.”
The Wolverines held Marist to seven first-half points Friday en route to 66-31 victory for the Class 4A Mount Carmel Regional title. No. 1 Simeon (25-3), which was led by Jabari Parker’s 19 points and 10 rebounds, advances to play DuSable on Tuesday in an Argo Sectional semifinal.
“They do a great job with their length, their strength, their size,” Nolan said. “They do an outstanding job of manipulating their man-to-man. … They really have an understanding of how they want to play their defense.”
Parker scored Simeon’s first eight points of the second quarter to spark the Wolverines to an 18-2 scoring advantage in the period.
After Marist senior guards Lexus Williams and L.J. McIntosh combined for 35 points in the first meeting, a 69-43 Simeon victory, they managed just four total points through three quarters. McIntosh, guarded by Simeon’s Kendall Pollard, scored nine points for Marist (18-11), which loses 10 seniors.
“He’s the No. 1 scorer, and I feel like I can shut down the other team’s best player every game,” Pollard said. “I felt like taking on that challenge tonight.”
Pollard and Tate combined for 13 assists to help Simeon stay in a flow. Simeon senior Kendrick Nunn (9 points) sat in the second half with a jammed toe, but coach Robert Smith said he could have played if needed.
“One possession we moved the ball 10 times before we got a shot,” Tate said. “If we keep playing like this and keep playing defense like this, I don’t see anybody beating us but ourselves.”
Player of the game: Jabari Parker, Simeon, 19 points, 10 rebounds.
Key performers: Simeon — Jaylon Tate, 11 points, 6 assists; Kendall Pollard, 4 points, 7 assists; Marist — L.J. McIntosh, 9 points, 5 rebounds.