PEORIA—Javon Freeman’s breathtakingly smooth glides to the basket for Young and freshman Blake Peters’ pure shooting touch for Evanston provided plenty of beautiful basketball on Friday at Carver Arena.
The Wildkits and Dolphins were expected to put on the best show of the day on Friday at Carver Arena and the two teams delivered.
Young followed the formula it has used all through the postseason to beat Evanston 62-56 in the Class 4A state semifinals.
“We have made sure that all the fans were entertained,” Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “We allowed the game to get close. The resiliency of these guys is what we are staking our claim on.”
Evanston led by seven at the half and by three after three quarters. The fourth quarter was back and forth early and then a big three-pointer from senior Jake Kosakowski with 3:47 to play gave the Dolphins a three-point lead and they were gone from there.
“[Young] was locked in,” Evanston coach Mike Ellis said. “They finished layups and free throws, just like a grade school basketball game that was the difference.”
Freeman finished with 25 points on a dazzling array of takes to the basket, shooting 11-for-13. He had four assists, including a styling behind the back pass, and eight rebounds.
Evanston junior Lance Jones, a good perimeter defender, had his hands full dealing with Freeman.
“It was pretty tough,” Jones said. “Javon is a very good player. I knew what he was capable of but it was hard to keep him from where he wanted to go.”
Junior Myles Baker added 10 points for Young (28-7). Xavier Castaneda and sophomore Tyler Beard each scored eight.
Only one senior, Matt Hall, played for Evanston (26-6) but the team never showed any nerves. Peters scored 23 points, he shot 5-for-7 from three-point range.
“I’ve seen freshmen that think they can make every shot,” Ellis said. “Blake does too but he backs it up a little more than others.”
“I just told myself not to think,” Peters said. “My teammates are great, always helping me through new situations. Unfortunately we couldn’t pull it out.”
Hall had 10 points and 11 rebounds, but only scored one basket in the second half.
“[Hall] had an outstanding game,” Slaughter said. “Taking him out int he second half is what turned the tide.”
Young, the defending Class 4A champs, will play Belleville West in the title game Saturday at 7:15.
“It is a situation of David vs. Goliath,” Slaughter said. “That team is incredible with [EJ] Liddell and a lot of other good parts. There is no doubt in my mind that is an outstanding basketball team.”