Kejuan Clements, Kenny Pittman step up to lead Simeon past Farragut

Simeon's Kejuan Clements (0) goes up against Farragut's Reggie Strong (3) and Kawinise Wilkins (0). Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times

Simeon point guard Kejuan Clements knows his role: “I have to get everyone involved and make sure we get the win.”

Clements would be the featured star on most teams in the state. At Simeon he’s just another very talented cog in the wheel. Clements did some scoring on Monday. He had 16 points in the Wolverines’ 95-63 win against visiting Farragut in the quarterfinals of the Public League playoffs.

“This was definitely my best game scoring,” Clements said. “But I’m not into scoring. I’m just trying to get my team involved and get the win.”

Simeon was a heavy favorite to win the game, but no one expected such a large margin of victory. The Admirals knocked off Uplift on the road in the second round last week.

“Not at all,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “[Farragut coach Wolf Nelson’s] teams always play hard and strong. He always has those guys prepared. You can never overlook them no matter what the personnel is. I didn’t think it was going to be like this.”

The Wolverines stars all played well. Senior Evan Gilyard led the way with 20 points. Talen Horton-Tucker scored 16 and Messiah Jones had 10 points and six rebounds.

Clements wasn’t the only unheralded Simeon player to have a big game. Junior Kenny Pittman scored 11, he made three three-pointers. The Wolverines consider Pittman their best shooter, but it hadn’t really translated to games until Monday.

“They expected this from me the whole season,” Pittman said. “It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m used to it. I’ve always been the best shooter on my team, since grammar school. I’m glad to be back now.”

Pittman, Madison Lowery, Antwan Campbell and Bakari Simmons all logged major minutes off the bench.

“That was huge, getting to rest a lot of guys in the fourth quarter,” Smith said. “And we’ve been waiting on Pittman to make some baskets. It’s coming at the right time.”

Farragut had a challenging time just getting to Simeon. The Admirals didn’t have a team bus to get them to the game so wound up traveling south in a seven-car caravan.

Farragut (12-9) hung with the Wolverines (23-2) for about a quarter and a half. Simeon led 44-27 at the half.

Admirals guard Aaron Strong continued to prove he’s one of the city’s top sophomore talents. He scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed five rebounds.

Farragut senior Kawanise Wilkins scored 16 and had 12 rebounds and Darnell Jones added seven points and six rebounds.

The Wolverines have a busy week. They will face the winner of the Young-Kenwood quarterfinal in the final four at Chicago State on Friday. Then they play Evanston at Robert Morris on Saturday and possibly the city title game on Sunday.

“We’ve done [that schedule] the past three years,” Smith said. “We just have to take it one game at a time. I think the guys are in good shape. Pontiac helps prepare us for that as well, playing four games in three days.”

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