Whitney Young needed to do everything they could to hold off unbeaten Fremd but they managed to hold on for a 53-47 Class 4A boys basketball state semifinal win on Friday night in Peoria.
The Dolphins (26-5) saw a 17-point lead get erased in the first half as the Vikings came roaring back after a slow start. Whitney Young eventually regained control and slowed things down as senior Lucas Williamson led the way with 17 points for the Dolphins. Craig Beudoin also added 12 points for Whitney Young. Juniors Xavier Castaneda and Javon Freeman each had nine points for Whitney Young.
Fremd (31-1) had a huge rally behind a balaced effort as senior Shaan Patel had 13 points and 10 rebounds while Brian Dompke also added 13 points. Ryan Martin also chipped in 10 points for the Vikings. Senior guard Kyle Sliwa, one of the team's clutch performers this season, was limited to eight points as he fouled out in the fourth quarter. The Vikings' unbeaten season ends with this loss but they had a great run to this point and made this game a memorable one in Class 4A.
The Dolphins move on to the Class 4A state title game on Saturday night as they'll play at 7:15 p.m. in a game that will be featured live on CSN+. Whitney Young could potentially face Bolingbrook or get another rematch against city rival Simeon, a team that beat the Dolphins earlier this year.
Whitney Young has won 13 consecutive games as they enter this game on a hot streak.
Whitney Young is hoping for its third state title in the last nine years by winning on Saturday night as they last won in 2009 and 2014.
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.
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.