PEORIA—Young’s Lucas Williamson was never a huge high school basketball star, never a phenom. But he started his career as a state champion and Saturday at Carver Arena he ended it the exact same way.
Williamson hugged his family and then ran to grab his state championship trophy with his teammates. Goal achieved.
The senior made five three-pointers and scored 19 points to lead Young to a 60-50 win against Simeon in the Class 4A state championship game.
“I just wanted to win so bad, that’s all it was,” Williamson, who was also on Young’s 2014 championship team, said.
Williamson was 5 for 6 from three-point range. His teammate Justin Boyd was 5 for 10 and scored 17 points.
“Williamson knew what it took to win a title,” Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “He was big time today. All he does is win.”
The Wolverines’ used a zone defense to beat the Dolphins in two games earlier this season, so they knew what was coming.
“They haven’t played a minute of man against us in five games,” Slaughter said. “I understand that. Today we did what we have not been able to do, we made shots.”
It’s the fourth state title for the Dolphins, who also won in 1998, 2009 and 2014.
Simeon (30-4) led 29-22 at the break. Young (27-7) rallied to tie it 34 midway through the third quarter. Williamson’s three-pointer gave the Dolphins a 43-42 leading heading into the fourth.
Simeon managed just one field goal in the final 11 minutes. That was a post bucket from Messiah Jones with 1:35 to play in regulation that tied the game at 50. It was the last points for either team in regulation.
The Dolphins dominated the overtime, outscoring Simeon 10-0.
“The one thing these guys have done all year is play defense,” Slaughter said. “It’s just amazing that we were able to stay with a great team like Simeon. Defense is something we have hung our hat on all year.”
Young became a serious state title contender when Seton transfer Javon Freeman elevated his game midway through the season.
“He fit right in,” Dolphins senior Craig Beaudoin said. “Once he came in we knew what we could do. Coach Slaughter said when Javon came in that we were a state championship team.”
Freeman was free to transfer after Seton closed last year. He initially decided to go to DePaul Prep, then settled on Young.
“I definitely made a good decision,” Freeman said. “Today is proof.”
Evan Gilyard led Simeon with 16 points and Talen Horton-Tucker scored 13.
“I tip my hat off to Young, they played an excellent game,” Simeon coach Robert Smith said. “They made shots today. They did a great job defensively on us. The first two times we beat them our bigs controlled the backboard and the game. They kind of took that away from us.”
Young out rebounded Simeon 36-29. Point guard Xavier Castaneda scored eight points for the Dolphins and Freeman finished with five points, six rebounds and three assists.
“All the polls are fake news,” Slaughter said. “No one picked us to win.”
Morgan Park won Class 3A earlier in the day and Orr captured the Class 2A title last week. This is the first time the Public League has won three state titles in one season.
Former Simeon star and current Milwaukee Bucks player Jabari Parker watched the game courtside. He’s currently rehabbing from a season-ending knee injury. Parker won four state titles in his time at Simeon.