Young beats Curie to win its fourth city title

AJ Casey and his teammates knocked off Curie 55-50 at UIC’s Credit Union 1 arena on Saturday.

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Young’s AJ Casey (0) holds the trophy after winning the game against Curie.

Young’s AJ Casey (0) holds the trophy after winning the game against Curie.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

AJ Casey first mentioned it in November. His goal this season is for Young to win city and state championships.

The talented senior said it again after Young upset Kenwood in the Public League semifinals Thursday.

That standard of excellence is what it takes to stand out in Young basketball history. The Dolphins have won several city and state titles. But only one team, the Quentin Richardson-led group in 1997-98, has managed to win both in the same season.

‘‘That hasn’t been done here in a long time, and it would be a special thing for us to pull off,’’ Casey said.

Casey and his teammates have accomplished the first part. The Dolphins knocked off Curie 55-50 in the Public League final Saturday at UIC’s Credit Union 1 Arena.

Casey was Young’s most consistent force throughout the game. The Miami recruit was the subject of much debate in recruiting circles during the fall. He played with a finger injury during the spring and summer, and his national ranking suffered.

Casey promised he would deliver during the high school season, and that prediction has come true. The 6-8 senior finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists against the Condors.

‘‘It feels amazing,’’ Casey said. ‘‘I’m just so happy that we [won] and I proved the naysayers wrong.’’

Junior guard Dalen Davis sparked Young (20-9) to an early lead. He made three three-pointers and scored 11 points in the first quarter as the Dolphins opened a 21-11 advantage. Davis finished with 15 points.

But Curie clawed back and took the lead on the final shot of the second quarter, a three-pointer by senior guard Phoenix Bullock.

Xavier Amos (12 points, nine rebounds) and Marcus Pigram (eight points) led Young’s charge in the third quarter. The Dolphins forced Curie into multiple turnovers — after the Condors had committed only one in the first half — and built a 45-39 lead.

Curie (24-6), however, threatened again late. The Condors cut Young’s lead to one with 3:14 left, then a drive to the basket by sophomore Carlos Harris pulled them to 53-50 with 23 seconds left.

But Davis and Casey beautifully beat Curie’s pressure on the Dolphins’ final possession and found junior Daniel Johnson for the basket that sealed the victory with 11 seconds left.

Amos, Casey and Johnson limited Curie’s big men in the second half. The Condors had only one basket from their post players in the final two quarters.

‘‘At halftime, we talked about fronting the post and other adjustments, and that worked out,’’ Amos said.

Harris led Curie with 16 points. Jeremy Harrington added 15 and Bullock 10.

Young’s last city title came in 2013. The Dolphins also won the city championship in 1997 and 1998. They lost the title game in 2000, 2011 and 2014.

‘‘This has been a phenomenal week of basketball for the Public League,’’ Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. ‘‘It’s a comeback after COVID. We’re just happy to have had an opportunity to have three upsets in one week. I wait with bated breath to see those rankings [Sunday].’’

Curie won the city title in 2014 and 2019 but was forced to forfeit the 2014 victory because of an eligibility-sheet issue. The Condors finished second in 2012.

Watch the final minute of Young vs. Curie:

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