Young holds off Hyde Park’s late charge to earn a spot in the city semis

Xavier Amos isn’t just scoring, rebounding, and blocking shots. He’s also counting.

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Young’s Marcus Pigram (4) reacts during the game against Hyde Park.

Young’s Marcus Pigram (4) reacts during the game against Hyde Park.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Xavier Amos isn’t just scoring, rebounding and blocking shots. He’s also counting.

Young’s 6-8 senior was quick to point out the number of blocked shots he had in the Dolphins’ 68-60 victory Tuesday against visiting Hyde Park in the quarterfinals of the Public League playoffs.

Amos had 21 points, nine blocks and eight rebounds. His shot-blocking ability was evident early and had a tremendous impact on the outcome. The Thunderbirds learned quickly that any avenue to the basket within a few feet of Amos was closed.

‘‘Anything I can do on defense to help the team get the win is important,’’ Amos said.

Amos, a Northern Illinois recruit, scored the first two baskets of the third quarter to help Young build a double-digit lead.

‘‘What [Amos] did at the rim was the difference,’’ Dolphins coach Tyrone Slaughter said. ‘‘It was even more important than his rebounding or his points. It allowed us to get out in transition. It limited their offense at the rim. He was spectacular. That’s the Xavier we have known and were just kind of waiting on to appear.’’

Young (18-9) led by 14 points early in the third quarter, but Hyde Park senior Davontae Hall — one of the most talented scorers in the area — spearheaded a 16-3 burst that pulled the Thunderbirds (19-7) to two points with a minute left in the game.

A couple of calls went against Hyde Park at that point, and the Dolphins capitalized by making all four of their free throws in the last 30 seconds to seal the victory.

‘‘Young made plays,’’ Hyde Park coach Jamere Dismukes said. ‘‘That’s the politically correct thing to say. We had a few turnovers down the stretch and maybe two bad shots.’’

Hall finished with 27 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. He was 9-for-18 shooting. Dismukes said Bradley, Buffalo, Central Michigan and Tulane all have shown recent interest in Hall, who is unsigned. North Carolina A&T already has offered him a scholarship.

‘‘We made a decision early on that [Hall] was going to have to beat us and he was going to have to score all the points if they were going to beat us,’’ Slaughter said. ‘‘We had to limit the other people.’’

Malik Jenkins, a 6-6 senior, stepped up and scored 16 points for the Thunderbirds. He was 4-for-4 from three-point range but spent most of the third quarter on the bench while the Dolphins built their lead.

Junior guard Dalen Davis added 14 points and Miami recruit AJ Casey 13 for Young.

‘‘We found out that Hall plays off his left hand and tries to get back right, so we made some minor tweaks to try and slow him down,’’ Casey said.

‘‘It’s nice to come back home with all the students supporting us and giving us that energy.’’

The Dolphins haven’t won a city title since 2013. Casey said Young is focused on the Public League title this season and wants to pull off the double and win city and state.

‘‘We are moving in the right direction, but we aren’t there yet,’’ Slaughter said. ‘‘We are still trying to get [recently injured] Daniel Johnson’s timing where we want it to be. We’ve got a really big game coming up on Thursday, whoever we wind up playing.’’

Young will face Kenwood in the semifinals Thursday at UIC.

Watch the final minute of Hyde Park at Young:

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