Author Archives: Kyle Williams

Whitney Young Shows High Potential, Holds on for Win Over St. Laurence

When AJ Casey has it going, there’s no doubt how deadly Whitney Young can be.

Against St. Laurence in the Dolphins’ second game of the season Sunday, the junior forward scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half after dealing with foul trouble through halftime. Casey’s play, combined with his team’s sense of urgency on both ends of the court, helped Young escape with a 63-62 over St. Laurence, despite a late rally from the Vikings. 

When Casey and teammates were all clicking, it showed why they are thought of so highly around Illinois.

This game had various ebbs and flows: Young started strong off of three steals from Casey. He has great anticipation that, coupled with his speed and length (he’s listed at 6-8), wreak havoc on opponents. In this early season, the Casey steal-and-dunk to bring the house down is already a familiar sight.

Despite the strong start for Young, St. Laurence fought its way back into the game on Darius Wilson’s back. The 6-2 senior scored 10 of his team’s 16 first-quarter points to keep the Vikings within striking distance.

At halftime, the Dolphins led 30-24. The third quarter was a shift for Young. The Dolphins came out energetically and locked in on both sides. Seniors Jaeshon Thomas and Grant Newell set the tone early. Newell, a mainstay on Young’s varsity the past two seasons, was diving for loose balls, rebounding and scoring around the rim. Thomas contributed on the glass and scoring, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds.

Casey went on a run where he was responsible for nine points, knocking down back-to-back threes on assists from sophomore point guard Dalen Davis, then returning the favor for Davis’ own three. Davis finished with 17 points and five assists.

After three quarters, it looked as the Dolphins had put this game away with a 54-37 lead, but the Vikings never gave in. 

St. Laurence kept chipping away with seniors Aaron Wofford and Eddie Martin helping out their fellow senior Wilson. The Vikings forced turnovers and took advantage on the other end.

With under 30 seconds to play, Young clung to a 63-57 lead. Young’s Thomas missed a free throw, then Wilson came down and converted a quick two. Holding a 63-59 with 18.5 seconds left, Newell had a chance to put the game away, but he also missed his free throw. 

With a chance to extend the game again, the Dolphin’s length and activity — their calling card of the young season — helped them in the end. Casey forced a missed shot at the rim. The Vikings grabbed the offensive rebound and ultimately knocked down a three, but the swarming Young defense forced too much time to run off the clock.

With their third game in as many days, the Dolphins start their 2021 season 3-0. They have a long, lengthy team that, when engaged, can just shut down an opposing team’s offense. That third-quarter run is a glimpse of what the Dolphins can be. 

Whitney Young Impresses in Win Over Taft

The last time the Whitney Young Dolphins played in a game, they defeated Simeon in the IHSA state playoffs. The long layoff is over as Whitney Young squared off against Taft on the road Friday, Feb. 19.

Gone are DJ Steward (Duke) and Tyler Beard (prep school before Georgetown) for Young. 

The cupboard is far from empty.

Seniors Grant Newell and Jaeshon Thomas, both with college-level talent, return along with sophomore Dalen Davis, who holds an offer from Illinois.

But the star will be AJ Casey, who scored the first points of the season with a thunderous two-handed slam. The junior forward, who played freshman year at Simeon and sophomore year at Tinley Park, is regarded as the best prospect in Illinois in the junior class.

The first points of the season came from transfer forward AJ Casey with a thunderous two-hand slam. The junior forward is regarded as the best player in his class in the state of Illinois according to 247 Sports.

With Casey, Thomas, Newell and junior Xavier Amos, have numerous 6-4-plus forwards with plus wingspans, and junior Marcus Overstreet provides the same off the bench.Their length and defensive activity was the difference in the game. The Dolphins were bigger and also played with a sense of urgency. Their defensive activity led to many deflections and difficult shots for taft.

At halftime the Dolphins led 36-19. For the game Whitney Young had seven players hit a three pointer, shooting over the Taft zone defense. Junior forward Daniel Johnson came off the bench and led Young with 13 points, knocking down multiple three when he came into the game. 

For Young, Thomas had 10 points and knocked down three triples. Davis added nine points and knocked down a pair of shots from long range. Senior forward Tyson Leitao came off the bench and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.

Young’s debut was impressive, dominating from the opening tip and not letting up.

For Taft junior point guard Jonathan Martinez impressed, showcasing an ability to drill threes, and sophomore guard Jewgrante Abraham led Taft with 11 points. Taft plays against Niles North on Monday. Whitney Young has a test against Thornton on the road Saturday.

This was an impressive debut for the Dolphins after the long layoff. The players wore masks and were socially distanced when they weren’t in the game. Illinois basketball wasn’t the same without the Chicago Public League..