PEORIA—Young coach Tyrone Slaughter made a bad decision in the second quarter of the Dolphins’ 53-47 victory against Fremd in the Class 4A State Semifinals at Carver Arena on Friday.
Young was crushing the Vikings 29-12 with three minutes to play in the first half and Slaughter decided to pull the ball out, slow things down and kill some clock.
“I’m not a very good coach and when you aren’t a good coach you do dumb things,” Slaughter joked. “That really wasn’t a good decision. When it happened we had put some subs in, were trying to get some starters some rest. It would have been more prudent and wise to keep going. I’m still learning.”
The move changed the game. Fremd (31-1) was able to find its footing. The Vikings closed the second quarter on a 7-0 run and headed to the locker room trailing by 10 points.
“We were getting adjusted to the stage in the first half,” Fremd senior Shaan Patel said. “They came out with a pretty fast pace, something we don’t usually play.”
The Vikings chopped away at the lead and finally tied the game at 40 on a basket from Brian Dompke with 4:55 to play.
Fremd’s leading scorer and buzzer-beater specialist Kyle Sliwa fouled out with 1:09 to play. The Vikings were down 47-45.
“We knew he was the go-to shooter so we were trying to pressure him and keep him out of the game,” Young junior Javon Freeman said.
Lucas Williamson led Young (26-7) with 17 points and eight rebounds. Senior Craig Beaudion scored 12 and Freeman and Xavier Castaneda each added nine.
“We played fantastic in the second half, battled back,” Fremd coach Bob Widlowski said. “We were one possession away from playing in the state championship game. It’s a tough way to lose their first game of the season.”
The Dolphins shot 14-for-19 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. They held off Fremd’s late charge, something no other team has done this season.
“This team has exhibited mental toughness all year,” Slaughter said. We lost a considerable lead. Fremd had a little flavor and a little zest around them. We were able to wrestle away with them and control the game.”
Patel led Fremd with 13 points and 10 rebounds, he played an impressive all-around game. Dompke scored 13 and grabbed seven boards. Sliwa, who averages 17 points, scored eight and Ryan Martin added 10 points.
The Mid-Suburban League has been on a down cycle the past few seasons. The Vikings earned some respect.
“They were 31-0 for a reason, that’s a good basketball team,” Slaughter said. “They play well, they play hard and they play to win.”