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

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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."

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Sparty Nation got another reason to flex. And it may have Coach K seeing green.

Max Christie, a five-star shooting guard (Rivals) and the top Illinois player in the Class of 2021, is headed to play for Michigan State and legendary head coach Tom Izzo. The Rolling Meadows High School product made his decision Tuesday in an interview with Fox’s Andy Katz.

“It just felt like it was a place that I was needed and a place I wanted to go to,” Christie said. “I think Coach Izzo and his staff and all my teammates there can push me to be the person I want to be, not just on, but off the court.”

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Christie selected Michigan State —his only official visit— over, namely, Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. Also on his list of potential choices were Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, Ohio State, Northwestern, Illinois and several others. While Christie is excited for Izzo to help improve his game, he also prides himself on his versatility and making an immediate impact.

“I think I can be a great facilitator and a great scorer,” Christie said. “I feel like I can do anything that Coach Izzo or the players need be to do if that means rebounding, pushing the ball, setting up an offense or coming off screens, I feel like I am versatile enough of anything that is asked of me.”

The 6-foot-6 Christie may get another boost on the court a few years down the line, as Class of 2022 phenom Emoni Bates, the top player in the current junior class, committed to play for MSU on June 30. All of this assumes Bates keeps his commitment to East Lansing and doesn’t hop the NBA. Christie remains steadfast in his committed to Michigan State and is not exploring any G-League options at the moment.

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Christie has grabbed headlines in Chicagoland since his freshman year. He has tallied a 50-point game and a triple double and had several clutch moments during his junior season. He is coming off the first 20-win campaign at ‘Meadows in nearly 30 years.

And there’s more Christie magic in the pipeline. Cameron, his younger brother, is one of the quickly-rising sophomores in the area.

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

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USA Today

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

It’s time to party like it’s 1995 —especially if you’re a high school basketball fan who likes watching the game in the Champaign-Urbana area.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) board of directors voted Monday to move the host venue for the boys state basketball finals from Peoria to Champaign’s renovated State Farm Center for the next three seasons.

“We see this as the passing of the torch from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “It is bittersweet because there is incredible passion from high school basketball within these two communities, and both have done so much to elevate the state final experience as hosts. The State Farm Center is one of the best arenas in the country, and we are excited to crown state champions there once again. The timing simply felt right to make a change as the tournament format shifts in 2021."

The boys tournament will run on March 11-13, 2021, March 10-12, 2022 and March 9-11, 2023.

“We are thrilled with today’s news that the Illinois high school boys basketball state finals will return home to the campus of the University of Illinois, Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “We are grateful to the IHSA and its leadership for choosing State Farm Center and Champaign-Urbana to host the state finals.

The boys tournament, which had been located in Champaign for 77 years, moved to Peoria’s Civic Center (Carver Arena) starting in 1996. The girls tournament was also in Champaign until 1992 before moving to Redbird Arena. The girls tournament will remain in Normal.

The Champaign area was steeped in prep basketball glory for generations. The first televised championship came in 1952 when Hebron, a school of 98 students defeated a Quincy school boasting an enrollment over 1,000. Six years later, the first Chicago school —Marshall— won state. In 1972, the tournament was split into Class A (small schools) and AA (large schools). The late Ben Wilson helped Simeon win in a title in Champaign in 1984 while future NBA stars (Kevin Garnett, Melvin Ely) and NFL receivers (Antwaan Randle El and Tai Streets) graced the floor at Assembly Hall during the 1995 tournament.

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The next year was a perfect one for the city of Peoria to grab the reins for the boys tournament. Hometown Manual High School won their third and fourth consecutive state titles in 1996 and 1997. Later, Derrick Rose guided Simeon to back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007. A four-class system was instituted for the 2007-08 season. Simeon dominated again from 2010-13 with Jabari Parker in the spotlight.

This year’s basketball tournaments were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.