Semi-Final #1: Chicago Simeon vs. Memphis East
Chicago’s best vs. the nation’s best. These teams could meet again next month in Memphis but for now it is for a place in the City of Palms finals. East brings high college level talent, length and athleticism while Simeon will bring big city grit and toughness. How will Simeon’s Talen Horton-Tucker handle the length of the Memphis skyline?
Horton-Tucker hit one of two free throws to open the contest, then Alex Lomas of Memphis East scored on a drive to give them the lead. A free throw by Simeon’s Kejuan Clements knotted the score at two. James Wiseman of Memphis East threw down a lob but Simeion took a lead on a three from Clements. East then went on a run as Chandler Lawson hit a long two, Lomas scored on the break and Lawson hit a mid-range shot in transition. With just under four minutes to play in the first, East led 10-5. Simeon got back on the board with a three from Clements that was answered in kind by Ryan Boyce of East. Messiah Jones put back a miss for Simeon and then Xavier Pinson tied the score at 13 with a three for Simeon. Lomax put East back in front with a drive, then Simeon took a lead after a three point play by Pinson. A three from Derrin Merriweather closed out the first quarter with East on top 18-16.
Simeon tied the score with a putback by Jones but East responded with a 7-0 run as Lawson hit a three and Wiseman scored twice inside to give East a 25-18 advantage. After an exchange of free throws and empty possessions, a Horton-Tucker bucket made the score 26-22. Johnathan Lawson then scored on a baseline floater for East and after a put back from Simeon, a three by Boyce gave East a seven point 31-24 lead with just under two minutes to play in the half. A three by Simeon’s Bakari Simmons got the margin down to four but Lomax scored for East at the other end. Jones and Horton-Tucker each scored inside for Simeon to close out the half with East clinging to a two point 33-31 lead.
Simeon took a one point lead to start the third quarter on a three from Pittman. That didn’t last long as Lawson knocked down a three for Memphis. A Jones putback tied the score at 36 then East’s Lawson scored four straight points to make the score 40-36. A transition basket by Simeon’s Clements got them back on track for a moment but then the Simeon well went dry. East capitalized with a pair of baskets from Wiseman and a three from Merriweather. Now East had a comfortable 47-38 lead. Jones stopped the bleeding for Simeon with a putback but another three from Merriweather made it a ten point lead for East at 50-40. Zion Young hit a three for Simeon but Lomax answered with a two and then Malcolm Dandrige hit one of two free throws for East. A dunk in transition by Horton-Tucker made it an eight point game at 53-45 with one quarter left to play.
Horton-Tucker hit a mid-range jumper to open the fourth quarter for Simeon. A three from Lawson of East was offset by a three of Pittman of Simeon to keep the margin at six. Dandridge put back a miss for East but then Simeon krept closer with a 7-4 run to make it a 60-55 game. That would be as close as Simeon would get as East closed them out with an 8-2 run and led by eleven at 68-57 with two minutes to play. Simeon ultimately ran out of time and East advanced to the finals with a 70-60 win.
Chandler Lawson led East with 17 points. Alex Lomax had 14, James Wiseman had 12, and Derrin Merriweather tallied 10 points.
Kenny Pittman led Simeon with 14 points while Xavier Pinson had 11 and Messiah Jones finished with 10 points.