Whitney Young High School Dolphins boys basketball team had no answers for the Glenbard West High School Hilltoppers. The 2022 Chicago Public League champions saw their high tempo offense smothered, and their vaulted defense overwhelmed, by the Hilltoppers in a 56-34 blowout defeat at Saturday’s IHSA Class 4A championship game at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill.

With Saturday’s loss, the Dolphins fell short of accomplishing one of the most challenging feats at the Chicago prep level; winning both the Chicago Public League championship and the state championship in the same season.

The final game of the 2021-2022 IHSA boys basketball season ended up being a rematch of an earlier non-conference game between two of the state’s top teams. On January 22, in a non-conference regular season game, the Hilltoppers beat the Dolphins 74-59 at the Sides Collide Shootout 2022 held in Benet, Ill. The Sides Collide Shootout is a match-up between the top boys basketball teams from Chicago and surrounding suburbs presented by the City/Suburban Hoops Report. 

After the loss, the Dolphins went on a red-hot winning streak. Led by head coach Tyrone Slaughter, Whitney Young came into Saturday night’s game against Glenbard West having won 12 of their last 14 games, including a nine game win streak between February 8 to March 11. 

After Saturday night’s loss in the championship game, Whitney Young finished its season with a 25-10 record. For the 2021-2022 season, the Dolphins only in-state defeats were to Glenbard West twice and Kenwood Academy

The last time Whitney Young won both the Chicago Public League championship and an AA state title was during the 1997-1998 season, when future NBA player Quentin Richardson led the team to a 30-1 record under former head coach George Stanton. Whitney Young has won four boys basketball city championships in the history of the program. Prior to the 2007-2008 season, IHSA boys’ basketball brackets were designated by A and AA instead of the current Class 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A system. 

Orr Academy High School is the last Chicago-based boys high-school basketball team to win a state title. Orr won three consecutive IHSA Class 2A titles from 2016-2019 under head coach Louis Adams.  

The Whitney Young faithful had good reason to hope for a different outcome than what took place back in January against Glenbard West. Coming into Saturday’s game, the Dolphins had the coaching edge. Slaughter’s coaching resume is one of the best in the state’s history with three state titles and two second-place state finishes over 17 seasons, all while coaching at Whitney Young. 

On the court, the 2021-2022 Whitney Young squad is loaded with collegiate talent. Two seniors led the team: forward A.J. Casey, a 6-foot-8 four-star prospect and University of Miami (FL) committee, and forward Xavier Amos, a 6-foot-8 Northern Illinois University committee. Amos, an Associated Press Illinois Class 4A second team selection, was the squad’s leading scorer at 11.4 points per game. Casey, an Associated Press Illinois Class 4A first team selection, pitched in 10.7 points per game and eight rebounds per game.


Yet, after winning the opening tip on Saturday night, Whitney Young found itself in an almost immediate five-point deficit. Possession after possession yielded no made field goals for the Dolphins. The Hilltoppers’ zone defense effectively neutralized potential dribble drive lanes, forced high arching passes around the perimeter, walled off interior passes to Casey and Amos, and caused turnovers. 

Casey scored the first Whitney Young point at the free throw line with 5:05 remaining in the first quarter to cut the Glenbard West advantage to 5-1. Casey would be held without a field goal until late in the fourth quarter. He finished with six points. Whitney Young senior guard Matthew Somerville converted the Dolphins’ first field goal of the game, a three-pointer, with 3:55 remaining in the first quarter to make the score 7-4 in favor of their opponent. 

Offensively, Amos was a force in the paint leading his team in scoring with eight first-half points to keep the game within striking distance. Heading into halftime, the Dolphins were down 25-16. Whitney Young never closed the gap and never led throughout the contest. Amos finished the game with 14 points and three blocks, leading the team in both categories. 

By the start of the fourth quarter, the game was well out-of-hand for Whitney Young. Down 42-20, the Dolphins shot just 39 percent from the field with just two free throw attempts. The view from the three-point line was not much better. Whitney Young shot 17 percent on just six attempts. The Dolphins staged a mini surge late in the fourth quarter but it was far too late. 

Despite the loss, Whitney Young is primed to contend for a Chicago Public League championship and state title again next year. Rising senior guard Dalen Davis is already receiving Division I scholarship offers from DePaul, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, University of Kansas, University of Nebraska and University of South Carolina, according to 247 Sports. The six-foot guard averaged 10.6 points per game and six assists per game on the season.

is a freelance contributor for The Triibe.