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."

Phillips defensive tackle Queneil Morrison commits to NIU

Phillips defensive tackle Queneil Morrison commits to NIU

Phillips junior defensive tackle recruit Queneil Morrison (6-foot-2, 300 pounds) gave Northern Illinois University his verbal commitment Saturday afternoon. Morrison, who is in DeKalb attending the Huskies spring game, told head coach Rod Carey his decision.

"I committed to NIU," Morrison said. "I just like NIU and it's a good school and a good program. I also really like the people at NIU and it's feel like a great place fort me."

Morrison, who had offers from Toledo and Bowling Green, was starting to draw increased recruiting looks from several FBS schools this spring.

[RELATED: Preps Recruiting News and Notes - Tuscola's Hunter Woodard headed to Oklahoma State]

Why commit this early to the NIU Huskies?

"I just really like NIU and I also didn't want to lose my opportunity that I have at NIU by waiting too long," Morrison said.

Morrison is now the fourth in-state verbal commitment to the Huskies' 2018 Class, joining Andrew defensive end Mike DeHaan, Plainfield East defensive end Jack Sullivan and Maine South running back Fotis Kokosioulis. Earlier this week, Danville junior offensive tackle Julian Pearl (6-foot-7, 245 pounds), who was the first 2018 commitment for the Huskies, backed out and gave Illinois his commitment after he was offered a scholarship earlier this week.

Glenbard North DB Tyrik Henderson verbally commits to Minnesota

Glenbard North DB Tyrik Henderson verbally commits to Minnesota

Glenbard North three-star ranked defensive back Tyrik Henderson (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) has given Minnesota and head coach PJ Fleck his verbal commitment.

"The culture that Coach Fleck is bringing to Minnesota is something that fits me as a player and as a young man growing up in this world," Henderson told Rivals.com's Midwest Recruiting Expert Josh Helmholdt. "Coach Fleck will not only teach me the game but he and his staff will teach me the way of (life) and how to succeed the right way.

"I know it's a little ways away from home but we have more than enough close family in Minnesota and my parents still wouldn't miss a beat when coming up for games. Minnesota is on the rise and I'm not missing this Boat, it's my time to hop on and get Rowing. Ski-U-Mah."

Henderson is now the Gopher second known State of Illinois verbal commitment in the Class of 2018 and the eleventh verbal commitment overall. Henderson joins Marist three-star ranked defensive tackle Elijah Teague who gave Minnesota his verbal commitment back in late February.

Henderson's decision is yet another example of recruits giving earlier and earlier verbal commitments. Out of the Rivals.com's Post-Season Class of 2018 State of Illinois Top 25 recruit rankings 11 of the top 12 ranked players are already verbally committed.