SPORTS | March 14, 2022
By Joey Gelman
After an exhilarating school-wide pep rally featuring Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday at Whitney Young High School, the boys basketball team and their hundreds of fans headed down to Champaign, IL with their sights set on their first state title since the 2016-2017 season.
A 51-47 win over Barrington High School meant the Dolphins would face Glenbard West High School in the title game. Earlier this season, Glenbard West defeated Whitney Young 74-59 in a top-tier non-conference game, so the stage was set for a rematch.
“Any time you have an opportunity to play the last game on the last day of the high school season, the word you would have to use is gratifying,” said Whitney Young Head Coach Tyrone Slaughter. “I think when we look back at the journey we have traveled this year, we wouldn’t be here today but for these men and their effort they put out every day.”
Glenbard West started out fast in the championship game, securing a 5-0 lead over the Dolphins and finished with a 25-16 first half lead. They began the second half with a 17-4 scoring run and ultimately won the game 56-34.
Guard Dalen Davis, a Young junior, will hopefully have another chance at winning a state championship during his senior season next year, but is incredibly grateful and thankful for the special team and season that 2021-2022 had to offer.
“I just want to congratulate this team, and this group of seniors,” Davis said. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I love these guys. I think the pain I’m feeling from losing the state championship game, I just want to bring it back to the younger guys to motivate them to do better so we can come back here next year.”
Simeon arrived at State Farm Center in Champaign, IL with the goal of winning their eighth State Championship in school history. The Wolverines entered the 3A state semi-finals on Friday with a matchup against Metamora.
“I’m really proud of these guys. These guys rose to the occasion to get here,” Simeon Head Coach Robert Smith said.
Metamora started the game with sharp three-point shooting, but Simeon’s defense stepped up to close the first half, and the Wolverines took a 26-25 lead into halftime. As the second half unfolded, the game was close throughout, but Metamora went on a 9-0 run late in the fourth quarter and ultimately won 50-47.
Simeon would be slated to come right back to State Farm Center later that evening to play for third place where they would take on St. Ignatius. While it was another close matchup, St. Ignatius captured the third place trophy, winning 61-59.
Guard Jaylen Drane, a senior, reflected positively on his experience at Simeon as he looks to continue his career at the college level next year.
“I look back at the good experience that I had here. My four years were good. It didn’t end the way I wanted it to end, but I’ll never forget it,” Drane said.
Twin brothers Miles and Wes Rubin are already looking toward their final season as Wolverines next year.
“This was definitely a learning experience,” Wes said. “We’ve had our ups and downs, but this is definitely a learning experience going into next season.”
[We learned that] everybody plays as hard and we need to play hard every game,” Miles said. “Don’t take any games off. When you come downstate, everybody plays hard, everyone wants to win. You gotta play hard every game.”