Kenwood coach Mike Irvin’s assessment of Young doesn’t pull any punches: “They can’t shoot. Their best offense is to throw the ball to the basket and rebound. That’s their best offense. They can’t shoot.”
The Dolphins were 2 of 15 from three-point range in their 56-52 win against Kenwood on Thursday in the Public League semifinals at UIC’s Credit Union 1 arena.
Young was 21-for-49 from the field as well, so Irvin wasn’t totally wrong. But the problem is that Kenwood’s shooters were just as bad. The Broncos were 3 of 16 from three and 20-for-53 from the field.
“We aren’t going to shoot like that again,” Kenwood senior Trey Pettigrew said. “That was extremely rare.”
Both teams took good care of the ball, limiting the transition baskets. All the poor shooting made the game a battle of the bigs, which swung things in Young’s favor.
Seniors Xavier Amos, AJ Casey and Marcus Overstreet, and junior Daniel Johnson earned the Dolphins the win in the paint.
Amos finished with 14 points and five rebounds. Casey had nine points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. He grabbed two extremely crucial boards in the final few seconds.
Casey’s dunk with 1:06 left gave Young a 52-51 lead it never relinquished. He drained two free throws with 10 seconds left to seal the victory.
“I was out there doing it for my team, doing as much as I can,” Casey said. “I know those rebounds were crucial at that moment.”
Dolphins point guard Dalen Davis scored 11 and had eight assists.
“Many people fail to realize that we have played the toughest schedule in the country of any public school,” Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “We are the No. 13 team in the state. We were fortunate enough to get two upsets this week. This team is good. We’ve been good all year.”
Kenwood (22-7) had a chance to tie the game with 16 seconds left but missed a three.
“We just guarded and that’s what we have done all year on the road,” Slaughter said.
Senior Trey Pettigrew led the Broncos with 20 points and junior Davius Loury added 13 points and nine rebounds.
“Public League basketball is Public League basketball,” Irvin said. “State officials are different from city officials. This was one of those games with a lot of pushing and shoving. We lost. They won. It is what it is.”
Young (17-9) led most of the way. The lead went back and forth the final three minutes. Kenwood beat the Dolphins in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament championship game in December. But Kenwood was without guard Darrin Ames and Young was missing Johnson and Davis.
“If you win the Public League championship nine times out of ten you aren’t going to win the state championship,” Irvin said. “That’s the way it has been lately. We understand that. We have bigger goals. I have the best shooters in the state. Trust me. If we get there we will bring the trophy home.”
Young will face Curie, which beat Simeon in the other semifinal game, in the city title game on Saturday.
Watch the final minute of Young vs. Kenwood: