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With each passing game Jabari Parker is becoming more like himself.
Just call the new version Jabari Parker 2.0.
The star Simeon forward showcased his dazzling all-around game by scoring a game-high 17 points and adding seven rebounds, four steals and three assists as Simeon smashed DuSable’s glass slipper with the convincing 73-38 victory in a Class Argo 4A Sectional semifinal Wednesday night in Summit.
The No. 2 Wolverines (26-3) advance to Friday’s sectional final against the winner of the Young/Curie showdown Thursday.
The state’s reigning Mr. Basketball, who spent much of the first half of the year regaining his form after suffering a foot injury last summer, Parker dominated the Panthers inside and out. He scored 11 of his total in the first half.
He scored five points during a crucial 10-0 Simeon first quarter burst that punctured the captivating story of the Panthers (14-11), who stunned ranked teams Brother Rice and St. Rita.
“We wanted to take away their confidence early,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “We knew that they were playing great basketball recently, and we didn’t want them to feel they could stay around at the start.”
Parker’s combination of size, athleticism and elite skills have always set him apart. His burst, timing and basketball rhythm are back with a vengeance. Parker again declined to talk with the press. Words were unnecessary.
“He’s healthy again, and you see he’s a lot of more confident in what he can do out there, the jumping, the elevation, and he is comfortable either on the perimter or the post,” Smith said.
Trying to become just the second school in state history to win four consecutive state basketball titles, the Wolverines opened the game sharp and never let the Panthers’ recent strong play become a factor. “They made it here for a reason,” Simeon senior guard Kendrick Nunn said.
The Illinois recruit bombed three three-pointers in scoring 13 points to back up Parker.
The Wolverines’ depth overwhelmed the Panthers. Simeon’s defensive stopper, Kendall Pollard, again drew the toughest assignment, DuSable’s 6-6 wing forward Chris Galbreath. The Panthers’ star scored 49 points in being named the Chicago Sun-Times Athlete of the Week in leading DuSable to the St. Rita Regional crown.
Pollard shadowed Galbreath and held him without a field goal attempt as Simeon ran out to the 21-9 first quarter advantage. “I feel like I can guard any position on the floor,” Pollard said. “I’d never seen him play until tonight, and the scouting report said he could play. I knew I had to stick him and not let him get open.”
Galbreath scored all seven of his points in the second quarter after Pollard was forced to the bench with two fouls. “He’s a great player, but I don’t think he’s used to shooting against that kind of size and length,” Smith said. Parker also helped defend Galbreath and was equally effective taking away his penetration game.
Demetrius Pointer scored 11 points to lead the Panthers.
Despite a sloppy second quarter, Simeon held a commanding 36-16 lead at the break. They broke the game open with a 17-6 run in the opening five minutes of the third quarter. Nunn nailed two three-pointers and Parker added six points during the flourish.
Parker and the other Simeon starters exited just inside two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Simeon’s talented underclassmen that tore through the Public League sophomore city championship showed off their talents in the fourth quarter. Sophomore wing forward DJ Williams drilled two three-pointers.
Freshman guard Zach Norvell, whose father is an assistant coach with DuSable, added seven points. Eleven different Simeon players scored.
Senior point guard Jaylon Tate posted a game-high six assists. His early passing set the tone of Simeon’s unselfish play. “Everybody knows we’re chasing history [with the four straight titles], and it’s not a burden, but a motivator and we want to do it for the seniors,” he said.