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Simeon's Jabari Parker slides past Curie's Cliff Alexander to roll in a shot. | Patrick Gleason~For Sun-Times Media
PONTIAC, Ill.—It wasn’t always pretty. There was an air ball and some obvious kinks still being worked out, but Jabari Parker played his first full game Saturday in the semifinals of the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.
Parker scored 16 and grabbed seven rebounds and his mere presence seemed to quiet Curie star Cliff Alexander down in the fourth quarter, which was the difference in Simeon’s 62-57 win over the Condors.
Alexander was the game’s dominant player for three and half quarters. He finished with 21 points and seven rebounds, shooting 9-for-10 from the floor. His dunk with 4:58 to play gave Curie a 48-47 lead. But that was the last he was heard from in the game.
Parker started guarding Alexander then, and for some reason Alexander didn’t want to fight to get open against him.
“I don’t know why,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “Jabari does a great job defensively.”
A three from Parker with 2:55 to play gave the Wolverines a 52-51 lead they would never relinquish. Curie had led by as many as six midway through the third quarter.
“They pushed us all the way to the limit,” Smith said. “That’s a good team.”
With Alexander contained, Simeon senior Kendall Pollard stepped into the spotlight. Pollard scored eight of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, his slam with 36 seconds to play gave the Wolverines a 58-51 lead and put the game out of reach.
“[Pollard] has been holding it down since Jabari and [Kendrick Nunn] have been hurt,” Smith said.
Jaylon Tate was a rock from the line, making 10 consecutive free throws He finished with 12 points. Simeon center Russell Woods had a major impact in the first half, holding his own against Alexander. He finished with 10 points.
Curie guard Demarcus Richardson scored 18 points and sophomore Josh Stamps continued to impress, scoring eight points in limited play.