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Simeon's Jabari Parker fires a shot after passing West Aurora's Jontrel Walker. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
PONTIAC, Ill.—Jabari Parker declined to talk to the media after driving Simeon to a historic Pontiac Holiday Tournament title on Saturday.
His play said plenty. Parker opened the game with a three and then drained two more in the first quarter. He finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds, leading the No. 2 Wolverines to a 60-47 win over No. 10 West Aurora.
This is becoming old hat for Simeon. It’s the Wolverines’ third consecutive Pontiac title and the 11th overall, the most in the tournament’s 82-year history.
It’s been a challenging start to the season for Parker. He’s been trying to work himself back into basketball shape after a summer foot injury, and he’s had to do it in the harsh glare of the public eye. The past three days at Pontiac were a large step forward for the 6-foot-7 senior. He scored 20 points in Simeon’s first game against East Moline and had 16 points in a tight semifinal win over Curie earlier on Saturday.
“That semifinal game wore us out,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “I think it took a little toll on us.”
West Aurora (10-2) was able to stay in the game for a half, trailing by just four at the break. Simeon opened the third quarter with a 14-2 run and never looked back.
“I think in the third quarter we just decided to pick it up,” Tate said. “We had been sluggish and I think we may have underestimated them a bit.”
Tate, an Illinois recruit, scored 12 points and dished out four assists. Fellow future Illini guard Kendrick Nunn added 11 points for Simeon (9-1). Illinois coach John Groce was in attendance.
“[The semi against Curie] was intense,” Nunn said. “We were sore and banged up. Seeing [Groce] there gave us some extra energy.”
Josh McAuley led the Blackhawks with 12 points and five rebounds. Point guard Jontrel Walker added 10 points and three assists.
Parker was given the A.C. Williamson award after the game, becoming the first three-time winner of the MVP/Sportsmanship honor.