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Basketball Tue Jan 15 2013

Can Morgan Park Take the Next Step?

morganpark.jpgOn February 19, 2011, Simeon lost 58-54 to Benet Academy. It was the Wolverines' last loss to an in-state team. In the last 23 months, they've lost three games -- all to out of state, nationally ranked opponents.

Everyone knows about Simeon's run of dominance. It's not like it's become tired or boring; it's that it's been constant. Jabari Parker's been the state's best player since he left middle school. Robert Smith's been a coaching genius since Derrick Rose and Tim Flowers.

So on Wednesday night when Simeon faces off against Morgan Park at Chicago State, it's not strange that the story won't be the Wolverines. It makes sense for people to look for something more interesting, something new. But this isn't the case. Morgan Park has made themselves the story. They're the team that's surprised people with their dominance; they're the city team that -- for the first time since February 19, 2011 -- might actually be the favorite against Simeon.

Morgan Park stands at 16-1, fresh off an 82-57 thrashing of defending state runner-up Proviso East at the prestigious Proviso West Tournament. They're led by Dayton-bound guard Kyle Davis and DePaul recruit Billy Garrett, Jr. And despite the arbitrary nature of these things, it's worth noting that the Tribune considers them the second-best team in the city -- behind Whitney Young, ahead of Simeon.

Getting ahead in the rankings is one thing, but actually taking down the state's most consistently dominant team is another. But Simeon has played close games throughout their historic run; when your trademark is playing under control, you often play 10-12 point games that, really, should be closer to 25-30. So Morgan Park, at a minimum, should have a shot against Simeon, which is plenty more than most would have guessed in November.

Photo by Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune

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