DePaul Prep shocks top-ranked Young

TY Johnson dodged and darted and attacked. The 6-2 DePaul Prep senior was a blur as he repeatedly found his way through Young’s tall and athletic defense.

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DePaul Prep’s Ty Johnson celebrates after the Rams defeat Young.

DePaul Prep’s Ty Johnson celebrates after the Rams defeat Young.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

DePaul Prep senior TY Johnson was a blur — dodging, darting and attacking as he repeatedly found his way through Young’s tall, athletic defense. 

The top-ranked Dolphins had no answer for Johnson on Friday in the Chipotle Clash of Champions at St. Patrick. The 6-2 Loyola recruit scored 32 points to lead the Rams to a 55-43 upset win. 

“I just stayed in the zone,” Johnson said. “My teammates saw I was hot. My coaches trusted me. They put the ball in my hand, and I got the job done. I didn’t want to go out with a loss, so I jumped into game mode and took over.”

Johnson scored 17 consecutive points for the Rams during a stretch of the second and third quarter. But his teammates weren’t just standing around watching — they were executing coach Tom Kleinschmidt’s plan to perfection. 

“We controlled the tempo and played at our own pace and didn’t let them speed us up,” Johnson said. “We are five seniors with experience. We’ve been here and they haven’t — they are still young. We’ve been here.”

The Rams’ intensity and effort was plain to see when 6-10 senior Brian Mathews dove on the floor and skidded while going after a loose ball in the final minutes. 

“This meant a lot,” Mathews said. “Young has a ton of talent. I knew it was going to be a rough game, but we came ready to go with our minds set on winning. We weren’t ready for the season to end.”

Mathews finished with 11 points and seven rebounds for DePaul Prep (12-2). Guards Rasheed Bello (seven points), Cam Lewis and Jabari Sawyer were instrumental in carrying out DePaul’s spread offense that helped nail down the win. 

“We’re starting to play a little bit,” Kleinschmidt said. “This is what we can be. Brian gave us something on the glass and with the defense, and he guarded well. And [Johnson] is [Johnson].”

Senior Grant Newell led Young (13-1) with 10 points, and junior AJ Casey added seven points and eight rebounds. Senior Jaeshon Thomas scored nine points.

DePaul Prep’s Brian Mathews (33) moves to the basket as the Rams play Young.

DePaul Prep’s Brian Mathews (33) moves to the basket as the Rams play Young.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

“I had 100 percent confidence we were going to win this game,” Johnson said. “Everyone doubted us, had us losing by 10 points. We had the mindset that we had to come in as a team and control it.”

The Dolphins never seemed totally in-sync on offense.

“We sit tight in the paint and get the shooters that we scouted,” Kleinschmidt said. “Young is a great team. [Dolphins coach Tyrone Slaughter] coached me in high school. They’ve been impressive for a long time.”

St. Ignatius knocked off Curie in a non-conference game Thursday night. Then DePaul Prep took down undefeated, top-ranked Young in the season’s premier event. Those are massive shifts in the high school basketball scene. 

“Of course the Public League is very strong, but the Catholic League is strong now, too,” Mathews said.

DePaul Prep will face Fenwick in the semifinals at Notre Dame on Saturday. 

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