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With five new starters replacing the core that helped Simeon win four consecutive state titles, the next generation Wolverine stars are ready to make their mark.
In the third quarter, 6-6 sophomore wing Ben Coupet snared a rebound and dribbled the length of the court before finding junior center Edward Morrow for a power dunk. New starts and new beginnings. The result at Simeon is the same.
Morrow scored 17 points and added eight rebounds and three blocked shots as the top-ranked Wolverines had seven different players score in defeating Harlan 65-46 in the teams’ home and conference debut Tuesday.
Coming off its impressive 16-point dismantling of Hamilton (Tenn.) at the Chicago Elite Classic that vaulted the Wolverines (2-0, 1-0 Red-South) to the top-ranking, Simeon played great in flashes than a sustained effort.
“People have to realize this is still only game two for us,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. It is a measure of the Wolverines’ depth and offensive versatility of how easily different players show a presence.
Junior Illinois-recruit D.J. Williams and senior Jaycee Hillsman keyed the victory on Saturday. Against the Falcons, Williams was shut out from the field and Hillsman failed to score. It hardly mattered.
Senior wing forward Donte Ingram, a Loyola-recruit, scored 13 points and added six rebounds for the Wolverines. His pull up three-pointer from the left wing ignited an 8-1 run to start the third quarter that pushed the Wolverines out to a commanding 47-27 lead to start the fourth quarter.
Morrow played the role of energizer. The 6-7 junior produced the most explosive play of the first half, a spectacular tip dunk, that illustrated Simeon’s depth and skill. Harlan had no answer for his size and strength on the interior. He also showed a diversified game, twice stepping out to hit jumpers on the wing.
“He played well,” Smith said of Morrow. “Whenever we needed a big basket, he came up with the big play.”
Senior guard Nate Bracy engineered the Falcons’ second half push as Harlan (1-6, 0-1) used an 18-6 fourth quarter run to cut a 20-point deficit to 12 points with about two minutes to play.
During one stretch of the second half, Bracy scored 13 consecutive points for the Falcons.
Turnovers and missed free throws doomed the Falcons. Harlan missed 10 out of its first 13 free throw attempts and shot just 6-for-17 for the game.
“We made some substitutions in the fourth quarter to try and get some other guys the [varsity] experience, but then we got our starters back in there once they made the run and we got the lead back up,” Smith said.
Sophomore guard Joshua Thomas contributed nine points for the Wolverines and Williams added seven points, all from the line.
Senior guard Andre Hogan added 10 points for the Falcons.