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Simeon HS basketball team on Nov. 12, 2012. L-R back row: Jabari Parker, Russell Woods, Rickey Norris, DJ Williams, and Quron Davis, AND Front Rpw, l-r are: Kendall Pollard, Kendrick Nunn, Jaylon Tate, and Sean Moore. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Simeon is two wins away from setting off a debate of which dynasty — Peoria Manual from 1994-1997 or Simeon from 2010-2013 — is better?
With two more victories in Peoria this weekend, Simeon will capture its fourth straight state championship and match the state record four consecutive titles Manual won in the mid-1990s. The overall records between the two will be similar, with Simeon 118-15 and Manual 121-11 in their respective four-year stretches.
Simeon played arguably a tougher overall schedule than Manual, but the Wolverines also played in a four-class system. Also, Simeon didn’t have the constant, high-level nemesis Manual had to deal with in three great Thornton teams during that era.
The real difference, however, is the longevity of Simeon’s dominance. With a state title this weekend, no program in state history can match six state championships, along with a state runner-up finish, over an eight-year period that will leave Simeon an amazing 231-35 in that eight-year run.
Morgan Park has crushed every opponent this postseason and put up staggering offensive numbers along the way, averaging 90 points a game in five state tournament wins — and just under 80 points on the season.
The Mustangs run off backcourt turnovers, missed shots and even when the opposing team happens to score.
Even in a relentless style, Morgan Park star guard Billy Garrett, Jr. affects the game more profoundly than any player remaining in Class 3A. He controls the offense, his team and a game.
But what people have failed to appreciate is just how hard coach Nick Irvin gets his team to play. It’s difficult for an opponent to avoid feeling overwhelmed when Morgan Park is tumbling on the floor for loose balls, driving the ball at the defense, clawing at available rebounds and, most important, violating the offense’s sense of comfort.
Orr’s dream season continues as the Spartans make their first trip to the state finals in school history. The bad news for first-timers like Orr is that since 1980 only three teams in big school state tournament history — Richards in 2008, Mount Carmel in 1985 and Simeon in 1984 — have brought home a state championship in the program’s first-ever trip to state.