The marquee game of Batavia's 18th annual Night of Hoops offered ESPN Rise's fifth-rated boys basketball team in the country, its No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2013 -- and life lessons.
Every bleacher seat was taken, and some in the aisles, too, for the chance to see Simeon and highly sought-after Jabari Parker play the host Bulldogs on Saturday.
Few, if any, would have given Batavia a chance against the defending Class 4A state champion. Batavia guard Jesse Coffey tied his career-high of 25 points, sinking six 3-point baskets, to help the Bulldogs pull within 10 points with 2 minutes 55 seconds left to play before losing 72-59.
Parker scored 16 points, 13 of them in a first-quarter shooting clinic.
"I'm very proud of our kids' effort," said Batavia coach Jim Roberts. "As we told our guys, every mistake against a team like this is magnified. Everyone's searching for the perfect game, but our kids did a lot of good things. But that being said, just about any mistake they capitalized on."
Coffey, a returning All-Area senior guard, made one 3-pointer in each of the first three quarters. He hit 3 in the fourth quarter -- and went 3-for-3 from the foul line when fouled on another try -- to match his high point total of Dec. 22 against Rockford Guilford, and Dec. 4, 2009, against Rochelle.
"Playing a team as good as Simeon in this kind of venue is pretty special in and of itself. To have a good shooting night is a little icing on the cake," Coffey said.
"They look to double a lot defensively, and when they do that they obviously leave the guy open, and I was able to find the open spot a few times and my teammates got me the ball. I was able to knock it down."
Illinois' top-rated team, Simeon (20-0) made 27 of 50 shots and Parker started out 5-for-5, hitting 3 NBA-range 3-pointers against Batavia's 2-3 zone.
Batavia (10-11) hung right with the Wolverines, big Cole Gardner heading inside for 6 of his 12 points to help Batavia match Simeon early, 13-13.
Despite Parker sitting with his second foul at 1:34 of the first quarter, Simeon led 21-13 at the end of the first quarter and looked as if it'd win going away up 40-23 at halftime.
"Maybe (we) should have gone man-to-man," Roberts said of the first half, and the Bulldogs did so the entirety of the second. Sophomore guard Mike Rueffer had the task of guarding Parker, who signed autographs after the game.
"They told me about a week before that I was going to guard him, so I had to prepare mentally for it," said Rueffer, who also hit a pair of 3s and scored 11 points.
"He's a handful, no matter who's guarding him. And especially with the size difference, when he's 6-6, 6-7 and I'm 6-2, that's a five-inch difference, that's a big difference. I just had to work my tail off to deny him the ball and do what I could."
Down 58-43 entering the fourth quarter, Batavia crept within 66-56 on a Gardner putback with 2:55 left to play. The Bulldogs forced a turnover, but Simeon's Rashawn McElrath blocked a lay-in that could have meant a single-digit deficit.
The Wolverines went 6-for-8 from the line to extend their lead.
"Like coach said, every mistake we had, it led to them scoring or turning the ball over, something like that. It's almost like a life lesson, too," said senior center Elliott Vaughn.
"You make mistakes and there's going to be consequences. We knew coming in we had to play not flawless, but to the best of our ability, I guess. And I think that was what we did tonight. We gave ourselves chances to win."