DJ Williams dominates on both ends, leads undefeated Thornton past Homewood-Flossmoor
“Oh my gosh [Williams was] unbelievable,” Thornton coach Tai Streets said. “He lives for these type of moments.”
Homewood-Flossmoor senior RJ Ogom let out a massive yell late in the third quarter Tuesday in Harvey.
It was directed at an official, coming after he was called for a foul and resulting in a technical, but it was clearly pent up frustration from dealing with Thornton’s DJ Williams.
“After he let out the scream, I felt the game was over,” Williams said. “He was gone, he was out of his game. He was done at that point.”
Ogom, a College of Charleston recruit, is uncommonly strong and athletic. Williams completely threw Ogom off his game with hard-nosed defense, and the undefeated and sixth-ranked Wildcats rolled to a 55-43 win against the No. 5 Vikings.
“Oh, my gosh, [Williams was] unbelievable,” Thornton coach Tai Streets said. “He lives for these type of moments. RJ was playing real well, but DJ won that battle, definitely. He’s a tough something.”
Ogom finished with seven points and two rebounds. Williams also contained Bloom star Christian Shumate in the Wildcats’ win against the Blazing Trojans last month. He’s the quarterback on Thornton’s football team and doesn’t plan to play basketball in college.
“[Williams] does that to a lot of people,” Street said. “We didn’t play him a bunch in [Nike’s prestigious EYBL summer league], but when we put him in, he would do the same thing to some of the best guys in the country. He’s just as tough as they come.”
Williams was spectacular on both ends of the court. He scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. H-F’s game plan was to pack the middle and force Thornton to hit three-pointers.
“We haven’t been shooting too well the last couple games, so I figured they would do that,” Williams said. “We just had to step up and make some big shots.”
Williams did that, shooting 6-for-9 from three-point range.
“It’s a little different animal over here,” Vikings coach Marc Condotti said. “If you win, great. If not, you come away with a lot to work on. The kid caught fire. If you make shots like that, it is going to give you a real leg up.”
Brandon Hall, Thornton’s best scorer, played in the game but was struggling with an injured ankle. He had two points and six rebounds.
“He’s a big part of our offense,” Williams said. “We all knew we had to do something bigger for the team, things we weren’t used to doing.”
Demarco Minor finished with 14 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (17-0), and Sean Burress added eight points.
H-F (12-3) led 17-5 in the first quarter, and Streets picked up a technical foul for yelling at a ref.
“He probably gets a tech every two games, that’s him,” Minor said. “That’s how we know he’s into the game. If he doesn’t get a tech, he probably doesn’t care about the game. If he’s willing to get a tech, we know it is time for us to give our all and win the game.”
Josiah Palmer led the Vikings with 15 points, and Joel Watts added 13. H-F struggled with Thornton’s full-court pressure and had 18 turnovers. The Vikings looked fatigued in the fourth quarter and managed just six points.
“They outplayed us and played tougher than us for 32 minutes,” Condotti said. “We have some things to work on, and we will get it corrected.”