The 29 wins were the second most of the Bob Hambric era, but Westinghouse was simply better than the Cameron Echols-led Wolverines. They gave Westinghouse a good game in a 58-55 loss in the Public League holiday tournament final, but were no match in Westinghouse's 68-54 city semifinal win.
At the time, it was the most losses by a Bob Hambric team and just the second one not to win 20 games. The highlight was a 77-61 victory over then-No. 5 Morgan Park, after which Hambric said, "We usually self-destruct in the third quarter, but every now and then the kids will do what they're supposed to do." Morgan Park won the rematch 66-54 to claim the Red South title.
The worst season of the Hambric Era began with six losses in the first 11 games. The Wolverines improved, but weren't good enough to avoid a loss to Julian and All-American Sean Dockery in the Public League quarterfinals. Westinghouse won the second of its four city titles from 2000-05.
Crane's city championship was less significant because the Public League gave up its automatic bid in hopes of getting more teams downstate, which was followed shortly by the first of annual complaints about city teams playing in the same sectional. Led by DeShawn Walker and junior Calvin Brock, Simeon won a regional title.
The decision to give up the automatic bid paid dividends as Calvin Brock and Co. rebounded from a 60-48 loss to Westinghouse in the city final to advance downstate for the first time in 15 years. Couldn't overcome Brock's foul trouble in 65-46 loss to Carbondale in a state quarterfinal.
A new coach and a transcendent star usher in a new, even more successful era. Already billed as Chicago's best point guard since Isiah Thomas, sophomore Derrick Rose is named first team All-State by the Tribune for the first of three times. Rose and fellow sophomore Tim Flowers fouled out in regulation of a 77-76 double-overtime loss to Bobby Frasor-led Brother Rice in a sectional final.
Rose and Flowers scored only nine points apiece, just enough for Simeon to win its first state title since 1984 with a 31-29 victory over Peoria Richwoods in the lowest-scoring Class AA final. Rose won it with a floater with two seconds left in OT. Dominant up to the final, Simeon beat Proviso East, John Scheyer-led Glenbrook North and Marshall by an average of 13.3 points in the previous three rounds.
Arguably Smith's best team, the Wolverines were so dominant they beat O'Fallon by 23 in the last game of Illinois' two-class era even though Rose went 0-for-7 from the field and scored two points. Flowers had 35 and 12 rebounds and joined Rose on the Tribune's All-State first team. Kevin Johnson also had a big state tournament.
Stan Simpson, a 6-9 senior who went on to Illinois, transferred from Leo and led the Wolverines back to Peoria in Year 1 A.D. (After Derrick). In Class 3A for one season before moving up to 4A, Simeon advanced to the state final before falling to Marshall 69-61. Simeon beat Marshall 78-53 in the CPS holiday tournament.
Like most Smith teams, Simeon was much better at the end of the season than the beginning, avenging losses to Curie and Vocational to claim a sectional title before losing to Hyde Park 68-61 in a supersectional. Jeremy Jones and Brandon Orange were the senior leaders. Freshman point guard Jelani Neely was called up for the postseason and played a key role in the win over Vocational.
Worked through some chemistry issues and a 4-4 stretch in late December and January to capture the first of three straight 4A titles. Jabari Parker was a freshman and Brandon Spearman was the star. He rescued Simeon against Benet in a supersectional and was the leading scorer in all seven postseason games. He had 19 in a state semifinal against O'Fallon and 13 in a 51-39 victory over Young in the final.
Won first 23 games before consecutive losses to Young and Benet, the latter before more than 8,000 at UIC. As expected, sophomore Parker emerged as the team's best player, but he had a lot of help from juniors Steve Taylor and Neely and senior center Rashawn McElrath in matching Rose's two state titles with two years still to play.
Parker lived up the hype with a dominant season, but it took everything the Wolverines had to rally for a 50-48 victory over undefeated Proviso East in the state final. Taylor joined Parker on the Tribune's All-State first team. Kendrick Nunn also emerged as a star. Lone loss to Las Vegas Findlay Prep cost them the mythical national championship.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun