Preps Talk

Whitney Young gets revenge on Simeon, wins Class 4A state title

pic_whitney_young_dunk_03-18.jpg

Whitney Young gets revenge on Simeon, wins Class 4A state title

PEORIA -- Whitney Young captured its fourth boys basketball state championship on Saturday as the Dolphins outlasted city rival Simeon for a 60-50 overtime win in the Class 4A state title game.

The Dolphins (27-7) lost twice to the Wolverines during the regular season but found a way to get revenge during the third matchup of the season between these two storied city rivals.

Senior Lucas Williamson led the Dolphins with 19 points while Justin Boyd chipped in 17 points -- including five three-pointers. Boyd's three-pointer opened the overtime scoring and gave Whitney Young the final push of momentum they needed as they held Simeon scoreless during the extra frame.

"I just wanted to win. I wanted to win so bad. That's all it was," Williamson said.

"State championship. It doesn't get much bigger than that. We just wanted to come out and win. I'm speechless right now."

The Whitney Young defense only allowed one Simeon field goal the final 11:10 of basketball as the Dolphins clamped down and got stops to help earn a state title.

"The one thing these guys have done all year is play defense," Whitney Young head coach Tyrone Slaughter said. "Defense is something that we've had a handle on all year. These guys were committed to it." 

Simeon (30-4) was led by senior point guard Evan Gilyard with 16 points but the UTEP commit was held scoreless during the second half and in overtime. The Whitney Young defense adjusted to Gilyard in the second half by trying to overload him to a single side of the floor as the plan was effective in slowing him down. With Gilyard struggling to get in the paint, Simeon's offense looked disjointed for much of the second half.

"We tried to ice him and make him go right," Whitney Young senior Craig Beudoin said of the left-handed Gilyard.  

Junior Talen Horton-Tucker also added 13 points for the Wolverines before fouling out. 

Simeon beat Whitney Young twice during the regular season but the Dolphins didn't seem to care too much about past results.  Back in December, when these teams played a non-conference game at the UIC Pavilion, the Wolverines won 59-52. Simeon also took down Whitney Young in the Public League Playoffs semifinals with a 60-49 win in late February. 

A healthy Justin Boyd was a huge difference for the Dolphins in the third matchup. Sitting out the first matchup between these two teams with an ankle injury, Boyd was the extra floor-spacer that Whitney Young needed to counteract Simeon's zone defense.

Once Boyd got confident hitting shots, it allowed for other Whitney Young shooters to get looks as it opened up the offensive attack for the Dolphins.

"They haven't played us a minute of man [defense] in five games," Slaughter said of Simeon's defensive focus. "We haven't done well against their zone. Today we did a lot better. We did the one thing we needed to do: we made shots."

This is the second state championship for Whitney Young in the last four seasons as they also won in 2014 behind a strong senior trio of Jahlil Okafor, Paul White and Miles Reynolds. Whitney Young head coach Tyrone Slaughter now has three state championships in his career as he also won in 2009 with the Dolphins.

"They're all so great," Slaughter said of the state titles. "I'm really happy for these guys because, through a lot of adversity, these guys have stayed with it and got it done."

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 3 Simeon

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 3 Simeon

School: Simeon

2016-17 record: 30-4, 8-2 Public League Red-South

Postseason results: Lost to Whitney Young in Class 4A Title Game

Players to watch: Senior Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State) is one of the area's premier two-way players. Senior forward Messiah Jones (Drake) is an elite leaper and rebounder. Talented junior guard KeJuan Clements is also back. The Wolverines also added some intriguing transfers in Xavier Pinson (St. Pat's) and Northwest Indiana native Zion Young. Both Pinson and Young have Division I interest and add even more perimeter firepower. 

Why they're in the power rankings: On paper, you could argue that Simeon is the most talented team in the state this season. The Wolverines have proven veterans who have won city titles and Division I transfers at multiple positions. But how will all of the pieces fit together? This is a fascinating group with a high ceiling.

Did you know? Making it back to Peoria last season, Simeon has now made 13 state finals appearances.

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 4 Orr

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 4 Orr

2016-17 record: 23-5, 8-2 Public League Red-West

Postseason results: Won Class 2A State Championship.

Players to watch: Seniors Dannie Smith and Raekwon Drake are both major All-Area threats after strong junior seasons. Another senior, Ty Mosley, might actually be the best long-term college prospect of the group as he's pledged to Milwaukee for next season. Sharpshooter Brian Hernandez is another seasoned veteran who has a knack for making big plays.

Why they're in the power rankings: The Spartans return most of last season's Class 2A title team and they also added some key transfers in former Marian Catholic point guard Chase Adams and former Clark wing Demarius Splunge. While the Spartans should be the heavy favorites to repeat in Class 2A, they haven't made as much noise in the Public League Playoffs, which is why they're still behind some of the other schools in the preseason Power Rankings.

Did you know? Orr was absolutely dominant during its Class 2A title run last March as the Spartans won by an average of 21 points. Only one team, Uplift, even played Orr to within single digits and that was still a nine-point margin of victory.