Jaehshon Thomas, Sangolay Njie help Young cruise past North Lawndale

From the outside, it appeared that Jaehshon Thomas’ transfer from Aurora Christian to Young went smoothly. The junior was an immediate starter and impact player for the Dolphins this season.

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Young’s Jaehshon Thomas (24) as North Lawndale’s Daveon Rogers (2) defends.

Young’s Jaehshon Thomas (24) as North Lawndale’s Daveon Rogers (2) defends.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

From the outside, it appeared junior Jaehshon Thomas’ transfer from Aurora Christian to Young went smoothly. He became an immediate starter and impact player for the Dolphins this season.

Turns out, it wasn’t quite that easy for Thomas.

‘‘It wasn’t smooth,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘I’ve been through some hard times with this team trying to find my place. I’m just starting to get in the groove now. I’m playing hard and knocking down open shots. The energy and fast pace surprised me. We weren’t fast-paced at all at Aurora Christian.’’

Thomas scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in No. 8 Young’s 80-41 rout Friday of visiting North Lawndale.

‘‘My mindset changed; that has been the biggest difference,’’ Thomas said. ‘‘I didn’t really know how to fit in with everybody right away.’’

Thomas is a natural scorer. He’s working to improve his defense and his point-guard skills.

‘‘[Thomas] does a lot, and he can do more,’’ Dolphins coach Tyrone Slaughter said. ‘‘When you play with DJ [Steward] and Tyler [Beard], it is hard to find your footing, but he’s figuring it out. [Thomas’ struggles] were more about the teams we played. We lost by eight points to four teams in the top 25 in the country. Some of those games were a little faster. It took him some time to settle down.’’

Sangolay Njie led Young (11-6, 7-0 Red-North/West) with 22 points and six rebounds. Beard added 10 points and Steward eight.

‘‘We had to shut down [North Lawndale’s Daveon Rogers],’’ Njie said. ‘‘We knew he could score and create, so we had to shut him down early. We knew they’d be emotional coming into the game and would try to come take our heads off. So we came prepared to finish and defend.’’

The game was close for a quarter. The Dolphins took control with a 16-1 run to end the first half. They led 42-21 at the break, and the Phoenix (12-6, 6-2) never mounted any kind of comeback in the second half.

Daequan Davis led North Lawndale with 11 points. Jamar Wilkins added nine and Charlie Harris eight.

‘‘We’re moving the right way,’’ Slaughter said. ‘‘A lot of it has to do with the schedule we played leading up to this. Our schedule prepares us for this. This team is no different than my past couple of teams. They genuinely like to play together and play well together.’’

Young also dominated in recent victories against Uplift and Westinghouse and picked up a nice triumph against St. Louis Christian Brothers last weekend in downstate Highland.

‘‘Hopefully we can keep it going,’’ Slaughter said. ‘‘We have two more games in conference. If we win either one, we win the conference outright. We feel good about where we are.’’

The Dolphins’ two remaining games are on the road — at Lane and at Orr. Young travels to Springfield, Massachusetts, to play Mount Vernon of New York in the Hoophall Classic on Sunday. The game will be streamed on ESPN3.

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