By Patrice Nkrumah, Chicago Crusader
Dorothy Gaters, the winningest high school basketball coach in Illinois, led her team to a third place finish last weekend at the State Finals in Normal, Illinois. The Lady Commandos of Marshall defeated fellow Chicago Public League semifinalist Simeon, 55-41 in the consolation game. But the Simeon girl’s basketball team had their most successful season in school history. Their improbable march toward a state title ended after a 56-41 loss in the semifinals to eventual three-time champions, Morton.
Simeon finished the season with a record of 23-8. After winning their De LaSalle sectional, the Wolverines trounced rival Morgan Park 44-23 in the Super Sectionals to earn their first trip downstate.
Led by senior forwards Terrinique Battle (Bowling Green) and Jamyra McChristine (St. Bonaventure), the Simeon Wolverines girl’s program made a name for itself. The school is mostly known for its boy’s basketball success. “This was a great experience for all of our girls,” said Simeon Coach Jonathan Davenport. “To be the first in school history is something nobody else can ever do. While we would have liked to have done better downstate, we lost to the three time defending champions in the semis, and a legendary Hall of Fame coach in the third place game. It just shows us how much further we have to go.”
For Marshall (33-1), a school with multiple state championships, this year was one in which they showed their dominance and put to rest any rumors about Coach Dorothy Gaters retiring anytime soon. Gaters, who refuses to tell her age and retired from the school years ago, said she still loves coaching, and this year despite her pedigree, felt as though her team proved a lot to naysayers. “We had a pretty dominating season and I think winning the city championship again after some years was very satisfying to everyone involved in our basketball family, present and past” she said. “It was a very tough loss in the semifinals when you haven’t lost a game all year. But we regrouped nicely after a quick turnaround and I think it was important to end the season with a win.”
With Public League powerhouse Whitney Young having a down season, the timing was right for both Simeon and Marshall to assert themselves as top-tier teams. Also proving themselves well throughout the season for the Public League was North Lawndale, whose season ended in a forfeit at the Sectional Final after they were deemed to have used an ineligible player.