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St. Vincent-St. Mary edges Simeon in Chicago Elite Classic thriller

  |   December 3, 2018  |   Stefan Modrich

Simeon head coach Robert Smith didn’t hold back in his assessment of Saturday night’s 61-58 loss, a marquee showdown with St. Vincent-St. Mary in the Chicago Elite Classic finale.

“We couldn’t beat an elementary school today,” Smith said. “You can’t turn the ball over 21 times and miss 19 free throws, and you still have a chance to win. That’s not saying much for the other team, actually.”

Smith acknowledged that there was much more to say about the visitors from Ohio, who claimed the victory in a game that came down to a final possession in which Simeon failed to force overtime.

“You gotta give them credit though, they stuck with it,” Smith said. “They made the plays when they needed to make them. Their big guys stepped up when they needed to make big baskets.”

For SV-SM, those playmakers were sophomore guard Seth Wilson (16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) and senior Ohio commit Lunden McDay (21 points, 3 rebounds).

Neither team led by more than six points in the back-and-forth affair, which featured nine lead changes.

Wilson and McDay combined to make nine of SV-SM’s 14 free throws, which proved crucial in such a tight contest. It also exposed Simeon’s vulnerabilities at the charity stripe and behind the arc— though both sides combined to only shoot 7-for-32 from three-point range.

What was most concerning to Smith, was one category in which Simeon failed to rack up any statistics at all.

“We had zero assists,” Smith said. “That’s not how we play basketball.”

Simeon senior stars Kejuan Clements (13 points, 4 rebounds) and Antonio Reeves (15 points, 10 rebounds), along with sophomore Ahamad Bynum (18 points) all played relatively well, but as SV-SM head coach Dru Joyce noted postgame, rolling with a 10-man rotation gave the visitors an edge.

Closing out the game in front of a raucous crowd, Smith said that as long as Simeon wins the Public League and a state title, the loss will be long forgotten. Still, as one of the founders of the Chicago Elite Classic alongside Whitney Young head coach Tyrone Slaughter, he recognized the importance of the event to the city.

“I thought the games were competitive this year,” Smith said. “Of course I only saw the Whitney Young game and our game, but just from reading and seeing what I saw, I thought Orr did a good job of playing with Sunrise Christian as long as they could play with them, a national program that is probably top 10.”

“This is not just for Whitney Young and Simeon, this is for the city of Chicago,” Smith said. “That’s why we bring these teams in – to elevate our city, because we need something positive going on in our city.”

Saturday’s game also provided Bynum with an opportunity to showcase his skills. Bynum’s recruiting activity is starting to heat up with early offers from DePaul, Northern Illinois, UIC and strong interest from Iowa State, per Matthew Bain of the Des Moines Register.

Bynum’s interest in teaming up with Simeon alum and Iowa State freshman Talen Horton-Tucker is something to keep in mind moving forward.

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