Big comeback lifts Simeon to first ever state title
It certainly wasn’t a normal Simeon game.
The usually extremely efficient Wolverines shot just 17-65 from the field, took a season high 29 three point attempts, and were even out rebounded.
But in the end, none of that mattered as the Wolverines erased a 16 point deficit to defeat the defending and previously unbeaten state champions Morton 45-44.
“It’s absolutely better than going 0-2 a few years ago,” said Simeon head coach Johnny Davenport. “A great feeling.”
“State champion and city champion,” Simeon senior Diamond Stokes added. “This is my first time winning a state title in my last year playing high school, so it’s pretty great.”
Simeon trailed for nearly the entirety of the game, and didn’t take their first lead until there were five minutes left in the contest.
The Wolverines offense in the second half was sparked by Nakiyah Callon, who not only hit some big three pointers off the bench, but also provided a defensive lift as well.
“I was really frustrated in the first half when my shot was not falling,” said Callon. “In the second half, coach said they’re going to fall, just keep shooting and that’s what they did.”
“She’s a streaky shooter,” added Davenport. “At times she can be completely off, and others where she cannot miss. We needed her to turn it on and she did.”
While Simeon couldn’t buy a bucket at times, their defensive effort and ball handling kept them in the contest.
Simeon pressed Morton and turned them over 22 times, while the Wolverines only turned the ball over five times themselves, limiting Morton’s offensive opportunities.
“We haven’t pressed a lot this year due to the fact that we don’t go deep,” said Davenport. “We can’t really get into foul trouble but it was do or die. We stepped it up with pressure and we were able to turn them over.”
After Simeon took the lead for the first time, Morton regained their composure and took a four point lead with 2:39 remaining behind Katie Krupa’s 19 points, who didn’t back down from the Simeon bigs.
But like time and time before, Simeon never let the moment get to them and battled back to pull within one possession.
Callon fouled out on the next possession, but Morton missed both of their attempts from the from the free throw line.
It was Callon’s replacement, Diamond Stokes, who found space for the eventual game winning layup despite coming off the bench cold.
“I just knew we wanted to win, I didn’t overthink it,” said Stokes. “I just stayed calm, play the game that I usually play.”
Morton’s last second attempt from Courtney Jones, capping off an incredible comeback and an incredible season.
Simeon are your class 3A champions! They beat Morton 45-44.
What a comeback. pic.twitter.com/vjklnhdVsD
— IL Preps Insider (@ILPrepsInsider) March 7, 2020
Simeon will return home to enjoy their championship, but the future remains bright for the Wolverines who return a lot of their core in Anessah Morrow, Khaniah Gardner, Jayla White and Callon.
When asked what he’s doing now that he’s a state champion, Coach Davenport summed everything up quite aptly:
“I can smile tonight.”
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