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Simeon's Edward Morrow (33) comes in for a shot in the last quarter against Proviso East in the state basketball semifinals.| Michelle LaVigne~Sun-Times Media
Peoria — Before the season even began, Simeon senior Jabari Parker saw something special in 6-6 sophomore Edward Morrow. Parker chose Morrow as the underclassman most likely to take over his role as Simeon’s superstar.
The Simeon coaching staff chuckled when they heard Parker had picked Morrow. There are several more highly-pedigreed underclassmen in the Simeon program.
Friday in the Class 4A state semifinals at Carver Arena, Morrow may have made his coaches into believers.
Morrow only played 13 minutes and scored just six points, but his play was the crucial difference in the Wolverines' 68-56 win over Proviso East.
“Edward Morrow stepped up big for us and got some big baskets,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “To bring a guy in off the bench like that was huge.”
Simeon’s rotation has been cut severely short over the past month, with the five starters playing almost the entire game together.
“I just wait for the coach to call my number,” Morrow said. “Coach always tells us to be ready. That’s why I work as hard as I do in practice. I was surprised when I got as many minutes as I did, but I was ready for the challenge.''
“[Morrow] has the passion for the game,” Parker said. “He got the opportunity, took advantage of it and he shined.”
Parker sparkled as well, continuing his run of dominant play in March. He finished with a game-high 20 points and a game-high 18 rebounds.
Kendrick Nunn added 14 points and four assists and Kendall Pollard scored 15, grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. Point guard Jaylon Tate finished with nine points and seven assists.
“Kendall Pollard did a real good job,” Parker said. “He really illuminated Simeon basketball. All the credit should go towards him.”
Simeon (29-3) led 33-31 at the half and 43-41 after three. The Wolverines opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run to build an eight-point lead. The Pirates closed to within 55-51 midway through the fourth, but Simeon responded with a 7-0 run to finish it off.
“I really think Morrow was the difference,” Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said. “We didn’t anticipate him having the impact he had in the second half.”
Parish McCullum led the Pirates (29-4) with 19 points. Sterling Brown added 12 points and 11 rebounds, Jevon Carter scored 12 and point guard Paris Lee scored 11 and dished out 10 assists.
Simeon will face Stevenson in the state title game Saturday. Win or lose it will be the final game for Simeon’s five senior starters.
“A lot of that stuff doesn’t mean much to me until we win,” Parker said. “Most importantly, I’m just going to cherish every moment with my team.”