By Kaleb Carter
Whitney Young is on a mission to prove its might among the best girls teams in the state. Some close early losses have given the Lady Dolphins proof that more work is needed to get where they want to be.
“We have the power to win, we just need to put all the pieces together,” junior Skylar Jones said. “And I think playing these tough teams around all these environments is going to make us better.”
The 5-11 wing is one of the better collegiate prospects in the state for the class of 2023. With college scholarship offers from Miami, Syracuse, DePaul, Illinois and others, Jones is keenly aware of what she’s capable of and how she’s perceived as a player.
“I’m not a sleeper in the state, I don’t think that at all,” Jones said. “Accolades are given, but I think it’s time for all of us to wake everybody up.”
For Whitney Young to do that, the Lady Dolphins will have to pull out wins against the types of top-notch teams they’ve not beaten consistently yet. Whitney Young has a 54-48 win over Homewood-Flossmoor, which was ranked No. 7 in Class 4A’s first Associated Press poll. The Dolphins have also beaten Carmel Catholic decisively at Kenwood’s Showdown In The Park, 67-51.
The Dolphins fell 69-60 to Stevenson at the Fremd Chicago Invitational Showcase in a game where the Patriots controlled most of the way. Whitney Young challenged itself in two games in O’Fallon, a 56-54 loss to the host and a 47-45 loss to Edwardsville.
Whitney Young coach Krissy Harper said that she has already seen Jones respond in the way the coach is looking for.
“She showed, ‘If my shot isn’t falling, now I’ve got to find something else I’m good at,’ so that’s why she turned it up on defense,” Harper said. “That’s why we schedule these kind of games. This is basically what state looks like. I want them all to be mentally prepared, but I definitely want Skylar right there with me.”
With Whitney Young sitting at 5-3, Jones wants her team to see this competition now to be better prepared for a potential city championship and state run. Between freshman phenom Destiny Jackson (scored 25 in the Stevenson loss), long and athletic senior Tanila Marshall (16 points versus Stevenson) and a complementary cast of Dolphins, Jones’ outlook for the next few months is highly optimistic.
“I think it’s good for us, because we’re such a young team, to play these hard teams now, especially because it’s going to be like this at state,” Jones said. “So we know what we’re going up against when we get down there. I think it’s good to take the loss now rather than the championship.”
Jones wants to find more confidence in her jump shot and to be a player who can deliver in those late-game moments.
“She’s really shown leadership,” Harper said. “Her mental part of the game is really starting to elevate And I think once she gets that 100 percent, she already has the skill level, so now she’s just working on that leadership.”
If the losses happen now but turn into wins to end the season, it won’t matter as much to Jones and the Dolphins in hindsight.
“Although it’s hard to take these hard losses and not play as we want to, I think it’s good for us to stay motivated and get ready for what’s really coming,” Jones said.