O’Brien: Talen Horton-Tucker puts on a show, Simeon downs Bloom

Simeon's Talen Horton-Tucker (5) takes the ball to the rim against Bloom in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament, December 30, 2016. Allen Cunningham / Chicago Sun-Times

PONTIAC — Two of this season’s big storylines have been blown apart this week at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament.

Top-ranked Curie’s loss to Danville in the quarterfinals on Thursday was a shocker. The Condors looked like the closest thing the area had to an unbeatable power before they headed to Pontiac.

Simeon’s success this season was allegedly going to be built on the three-headed guard attack of Evan Gilyard, Kezo Brown and Kejuan Clements.

All of them are playing well, but Simeon is getting far more than anyone expected out of their undersized big men.

Messiah Jones, a 6-5 junior, had 22 points and seven rebounds to lead the Wolverines to a 59-38 win against Bloom in the semifinals on Friday.

“Now we have some balance,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “We can score on the inside. Madison has been doing great too. We are just using what we have. Those guys have been working really hard in practice.”

Talen Horton-Tucker, another 6-5 junior, put on a show. He had 15 points and seven rebounds and dominated the game for long stretches.

“His ceiling is so high,” Smith said. “He’s still growing. Hopefully next year he’ll be 6-7. He has a 7-1 wingspan, wears a size 15 shoe and he just turned 16. Skill-wise the closest thing we have had to that is Jabari Parker. He can do so many different things on the floor. People underestimate him a little bit because of his body type.”

Jones had picked up most of his points this season on rebounds and put backs. The past two days he has started scoring on post moves.

“Things have been changing a lot,” Jones said. “My team knows if they give me the ball I can score with it. Being one of the smallest bigs isn’t a problem for me, I’m quicker and stronger. I can blow right past them.”

Simeon (10-0) led by seven at the half and then totally dominated the third quarter to cruise to the win.

Javonte Slater led Bloom (8-3) with eight points and star senior Austin Richie scored six. The Blazing Trojans knocked off Peoria Manual in the first round and upset Joliet West in the quarterfinals but their luck ran out against the Wolverines.

Simeon will play Benet, which beat them in the Class 4A state semifinals last season, in the title game on Friday night.

“I want to face them a lot,” Jones said. “We weren’t supposed to lose that game last year.”

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