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During the opening minute of the second quarter between host Mount Carmel and Simeon in a Class 4A regional semifinal Tuesday, Duke recruit Jabari Parker went to the foul line to complete a three-point play. The Wolverines were up 14-8 at the time and Parker had 12 of those points.
A Caravan fan in the student cheering section with a cheerleader-size megaphone yelled out “Overrated” into the dead silence as Parker started his free throw. Parker made the free throw and acknowledged the chanter as he back peddled to play defense.
On this night, Parker confirmed as he normally does that he is anything but overrated. He finished with a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds in leading his team to a 70-34 win.
“That’s alright,” said Parker, who had autograph seekers waiting after the game. “I’m glad I’m in the position I’m in — I’m blessed. This comes with the territory. If you are getting criticism and people are belittling you, that just means you’ve made it. That’s just saying I’m almost there.”
The Wolverines (24-3) will continue their pursuit for a fourth consecutive state title when they meet the winner of Marist/Hyde Park for the regional title on Friday.
The Caravan finished the season 10-17.
Illinois recruit Kendrick Nunn had 17 points and eight rebounds for the Wolverines while Donte Ingram had eight off the bench. All three freshman — Zachary Norvell, Ben Coupet, and Joshua Thomas — saw action late in the game for the Wolverines. Norvell had five points, including a three.
The Wolverines led 12-8 after a quarter and started the second with an 11-2 run for a 23-10 lead. Parker had five during the run, including that three-point play, while Nunn also had four. The Wolverines led 28-17 at the break.
“We looked terrible,” said Simeon coach Robert Smith, whose team used a 13-0 run to take a 41-17 third-quarter lead. “I didn’t like our intensity. I didn’t like how we came out on the court like we were just going to win. They are going to lose if they don’t get it corrected. I’ve been here too many times and I understand what’s going on, and they don’t.”
The Caravan were 5-for-38 from the three-point line. Mike Garrett led Mount Carmel with eight points.
“We had to make shots and we didn’t,” Mount Carmel coach Mike Flaherty. “We’re not going to beat anybody let alone Simeon if we can’t shoot a better percentage than that.”