No. 5 Simeon starts, finishes fast to knock off No. 2 Young in city semifinal

The fast start and strong finish were the stuff of Simeon's collection of championships.In the middle were the questions still surrounding this clearly capable Wolverines team. Messiah Jones dominated the paint with 21 points, 18 rebounds and five blocked...

No. 5 Simeon starts, finishes fast to knock off No. 2 Young in city semifinal

The fast start and strong finish were the stuff of Simeon's collection of championships.

In the middle were the questions still surrounding this clearly capable Wolverines team.

Messiah Jones dominated the paint with 21 points, 18 rebounds and five blocked shots and Evan Gilyard and Kezo Brown took care of the perimeter as No. 5 Simeon secured a return trip to the Public League final with a 60-49 victory over No. 2 Young in Friday's city semifinals at Chicago State.

Simeon (23-2) will attempt to defend last season's city title against No. 4 Morgan Park at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Chicago State.

It will be the final leg of back-to-back-to-back games against highly ranked teams. The Wolverines will face No. 8 Evanston in the City-Suburban Showdown on Saturday night in Arlington Heights, where Morgan Park will also be in action, against Stevenson.

"We played OK," Simeon coach Robert Smith said. "We played eight minutes of basketball, that's really it. We still got a long ways to go.

"When we start playing so well, we start doing different stuff. We want to try our own stuff instead of staying with what's working. That has been our problem."

Young had a bigger problem, the 6-foot-5 Jones.

The least heralded of the Wolverines' three junior starters, Jones' production has risen as he's simplified his game,

He established himself as force on both ends during Simeon's 11-1 opening run and was the team's lone constant as Javon Freeman (26 points) drew Young even at 40-40 after three quarters.

Gilyard and Brown heated up as Simeon scored the first 12 points of the fourth quarter to beat Young (20-7) for the second time this season.

"The biggest thing about Messiah is he's got to play the game the right way and everything is going to come to him," Brown said. "That's a big dog right there. Nobody can stop him. He just has to play the game the right way."

Mike Helfgot is a freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

Player of the game: Messiah Jones, Simeon, 21 points, 18 rebounds, 5 blocks.

Key performers: Young — Javon Freeman, 26 points. Simeon — Kezo Brown, 14 points. Evan Gilyard, 13 points, 3 3-pointers.

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