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Article posted: 3/18/2012 12:01 AM
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Historic title for Simeon
  • Simeon's Kendrick Nunn (20) grabs a rebound from Proviso East's Sterling Brown during the Class 4A boys basketball championship game Saturday in Peoria. Simeon prevailed 50-48 to claim its third straight title and sixth overall.

    Simeon's Kendrick Nunn (20) grabs a rebound from Proviso East's Sterling Brown during the Class 4A boys basketball championship game Saturday in Peoria. Simeon prevailed 50-48 to claim its third straight title and sixth overall. Associated Press

Simeon's lesson Saturday night may be that history is never achieved easily.

In the much-anticipated battle between the state's two best boys basketball teams, Simeon trailed unbeaten Proviso East by 5 points with just eight minutes to play in the Class 4A title game at Carver Arena in Peoria.

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But the Wolverines produced a championship finish as they won their third straight 4A crown and state-record sixth title with a 50-48 victory.

"It was all a team effort and it wasn't just me," said Simeon standout junior Jabari Parker, who scored a team-high 15 points. "Everybody made a collective effort on defense."

Which was crucial as top-ranked Simeon (33-1) outscored Proviso East 16-4 to take a 50-43 lead with 12 seconds to play. Steve Taylor had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Jelani Neely added 10 points as the Chicago school surpassed the five titles won by Peoria Manual and Peoria Central, which beat North Chicago 72-64 for the 3A crown Saturday afternoon.

Second-ranked Proviso East (32-1) junior Sterling Brown produced a performance befitting of his first name by scoring 20 of his 25 points through three quarters to drive his team to a 39-34 lead.

But an 8-0 run put Simeon up 45-41. Paris Lee hit a floater in the lane for Proviso East but after an exchange of turnovers, Neely hit 2 free throws to make it 47-43 with 1:17 left.

Jaylon Tate split a pair of free throws with 31.6 seconds left and Parker's emphatic two-hand slam seemed to punctuate the victory with 12 seconds left. But Parker was assessed a technical foul for hanging on the rim and Brown hit 2 free throws.

Brown then hit a 3 over Parker from the right corner with 4.4 seconds left and pleaded for a foul call as he fell to the ground. But no foul was called and Simeon ran out the clock with Proviso East out of timeouts.

The win gave Simeon coach Robert Smith his state-record fifth title in seven years as he passed the four by Bennie Lewis of East St. Louis Lincoln (1982, 1987-89).

Now Simeon will aim to match Manual's mark of four straight titles from 1994-97.

"We have to get back to it," Smith said. "We'll come back and try to get back again next year."

Rockford Auburn 57, Bloom 46: Wichita State-bound Fred Van Vleet had 21 points and 5 assists to lead Rockford Auburn (32-3) its best finish in history with third place in 4A. Donald Moore's 16 points led Bloom (28-5).

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