Curie holds off Simeon, clinches a share of Red-South/Central title

Curie’s Mason Minor (30) controls the ball past Simeon Andre Tyler (0).

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Simeon’s gym was rocking Thursday evening, with the lower stands almost full and the young and improving home team off to an early double-digit lead.

A minor scuffle in the third quarter just ramped up the decibel level even more.

But it takes more than all that to rattle Curie’s all-senior lineup.

The top-ranked Condors fell into an 11-point hole in the second quarter and had just four points from UIC recruit Carlos Harris III. But they still had enough in the tank to rally for a 60-57 Red-South/Central win.

“It was very intense,” Curie senior Will Gonzalez said. “When the scuffle happened, the crowd got into it. It was a good game though. It was fun playing in that type of atmosphere.”

The dustup, which occurred with the score tied at 35 in the third quarter, wasn’t much more than a few words exchanged, a technical foul assessed against each team and the benches clearing. The rest of the game was played without incident.

Curie (22-2, 7-1) clinched a share of the conference title and can win it outright by beating Hyde Park on the road on Friday.

Guard Mason Minor, one of the Condors’ five senior starters, scored a game-high 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting. Fellow guard Gonzalez had 15 points and five rebounds. Taevion Collier, a 6-6 forward, had the go-ahead basket with 35 seconds left and finished with seven points and eight rebounds.

“The last four or five games, Mason has been our best player, our leading scorer,” Curie coach Mike Oliver said. “He’s a senior, he’s been on varsity for four years. So it’s time for him to show people what you can do.

“That’s what Curie’s about. Wait your turn, and when it’s your turn go out there and produce.”

Minor wasn’t shy about looking for his shot, but he also wasn’t trying to win the game singlehandedly.

“Definitely a lot of opportunities,” he said. “I just capitalized off it and played my game — not do too much, just did what was best for the team.”

The Condors trailed 27-16 after Simeon senior Rashad McKinnie hit one of his three three-pointers with 4:57 left in the second quarter. What changed after that?

“We started playing some defense,” Oliver said. “I don’t know what’s going on this week. But we just chose not to play defense at Lindblom [in a 73-66 loss on Tuesday] and then we didn’t play [any] defense early in the first quarter [Thursday].”

Simeon’s last lead was at 40-38 late in the third quarter, right before Minor hit a three-pointer. But the Wolverines (11-12, 6-2) tied it at 55 with 1:35 remaining when McKinnie hit the second of his back-to-back three-pointers.

Simeon’s Kassidy Nelson (3) and Charles Smith (10) react to tying the game against Curie late in the fourth quarter.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Collier’s drive put the Condors back on top to stay and they hit just enough free throws to prevail.

Minor likes the idea of getting three tough conference games ahead of the Public League tournament, which starts next week.

“For sure, this is what we’re going to come through in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s just making us better as a team. We know how to play together and we know not to get too rowdy through hard and tough times.”

Sophomore Andre Tyler led Simeon with 15 points, McKinnie had 14 points and eight rebounds and sophomore Lorenzo Shields also scored 14.

“I’ve been saying all along, this is Simeon,” Wolverines coach Tim Flowers said. “You come to Simeon like you go to Kentuckys and Dukes and North Carolinas. You don’t come there to be at the bottom of the barrel no matter who is in the jersey. You go there to compete.

“When it comes to this group, we’re only trying to compete. And every day we compete, we’re growing and getting better.” 

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