By Joe Henricksen
A year ago the Hoops Report headed to Simeon to catch a glimpse of an upstart Bogan team and the city's new hot sensation--point guard Rico Richardson. The Bengals didn't disappoint.
In one of the more competitive and intense games the Hoops Report took in last season, Bogan rallied from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit and beat the Wolverines in overtime.
Following the Bogan loss, the Hoops Report remembers Simeon coach Robert Smith being about as frustrated as he's been in his coaching career at the basketball powerhouse. The Bogan loss was Simeon's second straight in the Red-South--the Wolverines fell to CVS earlier in the week--and dropped them to a modest 14-7 on the season.
A month later Simeon was all good. The Wolverines switched things up defensively, getting away from its zone defense and relying more heavily on a stifling man-to-man, and went on a run behind a rejuvenated Brandon Spearman. The end result was a Class 4A state championship in March. Now Simeon is a top 10 team nationally, unbeaten and a favorite to repeat in Class 4A.
A lot will be on the line once again when Simeon and Bogan meet Thursday night. Who would have thought the game of the year in the Public League's Red-South would be Simeon-Bogan when the season began? Despite the graduation of Richardson and unheralded Darius Gholston from a year ago, Bogan has quietly emerged as a player in the Chicago Public League. The Bengals have arrived on the scene without anyone noticing. Coach Arthur Goodwin's club, which finished off a Wayne Blackshear-less Morgan Park Wednesday, is a perfect 8-0 in arguably the state's toughest league and 17-5 overall.
Bogan has established a reputation of playing extremely hard and without fear over the past couple of years and took a major step forward in late December. The Bengals went 2-2 and finished fourth at the Centralia Holiday Tournament. But Bogan beat the host school, which is never easy to do at Centralia, and played McCluer North, led by All-American B.J. Young, to a two-point game, losing 69-67 in the semifinals.
A team blossoming with young talent, Bogan has grown up since the trip down south over the holidays. The junior guard trio of Kendall Wesley and Ronnell Buckner, two players capable of stretching a defense with their shooting ability, and DeVaughn Johnson have been huge since the calendar turned to January. And big man Moshawn Thomas, a long, rangy and active 6-7 sophomore, is the X-factor. Thomas is among the Hoops Report's top 12 prospects in the Class of 2013 but is still coming together as far as consistent production.
But is this Bogan team ready for the state's top team?
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