ROUND LAKE, Ill. -- North Chicago’s Aaron Simpson first got flipped and then he flipped the switch.
During the first quarter of Tuesday’s game with Round Lake, the 6-foot Simpson drove to the basket and went up for a dunk. A defender stepped in and knocked Simpson while in flight. Simpson flipped over in the air and landed head-first onto the court.
Simpson got up and was okay, but from there on he was out to make sure Round Lake wouldn’t be. Possession after possession, Simpson got the ball, had no thoughts of passing it and pulled up from 20 feet and beyond. He would later call it “beast mode.”
When Simpson finally came off the floor with 3:45 remaining in the second quarter, he had drained six 3-pointers and scored 31 points. He had never scored than 22 points in a half before.
Simpson played a few more minutes in the second half and finished seven 3-pointers and 36 points in roughly 18 minutes. North Chicago, No. 20 in the ESPN Chicago rankings, defeated Round Lake 93-59 in the North Suburban Prairie matchup.
“I can’t say what was going through my mind,” Simpson said. “All I had was beast mode in my mind. All I wanted to do was go to work, and I couldn’t think anyone could stop me. I was kind of upset after that foul.”
Simpson’s prettiest move during his outburst came in the second quarter when he crossed up a defender, stepped back and banked a 3-pointer while he was fading away.
“That’s kind of my specialty move,” Simpson said. “I like banking it off the glass. I think that’s the easiest shot in the game. I like doing that once a game.”
As North Chicago coach Gerald Coleman knows, the easiest shot of the game for most players is a layup. But for Simpson, Coleman has different rules.
“I teach my kids the game of Bozo when they had the buckets,” Coleman said. “The best percentage is the first bucket. With Simpson, the best percentage is the sixth bucket.
“With Simpson, that’s not basketball. You always want to take the best percentage shot. But if we had to go with a game-winning shot, I’m going to set him up for a 30-foot jump shot. I’m serious.”
Simpson did have one true high-percentage shot. In the third quarter, Simpson trailed on a fastbreak, his teammate passed the ball off the glass, and Simpson threw it down through the net with one hand.
“I can jump a little bit,” Simpson joked later.
Simpson is signed with Illinois State. There had been rumors of him not qualifying, but he said he’s corrected his grades and is on track to play for the Redbirds next season.
North Chicago (11-2) will face Brooks and Curie in Chicago this weekend. They are two games Simpson wants more than any this season.
“Our goal is go down there play them good, so they can’t say we’re just out here playing other teams who can’t play in the city,” Simpson said. “I want them to respect my team. I want them to know North Chicago came in with a bang.”