With his famous father looking on, Chicago Whitney Young senior Marcus Jordan steadied his team to the Class 4A boys basketball state championship Saturday night, 69-66 over Waukegan at Carver Arena.
"That's my son," Michael Jordan, who looked as proud as if he had just won a seventh NBA championship for the Chicago Bulls, said at the end of the game.
Little MJ was 3-for-3 on 3-point attempts and also perfect from the free-throw line. Each of those four attempts came in the final 28 seconds. The 6-foot-3 senior led his team in scoring, with 19 points.
Maybe more importantly — like the old man — he led them in spirit, determination and sheer will to win.
"I told the team when we got down here I would not let them lose," Jordan said. "I just wanted to make sure we got the ‘W.' "
But this was no one-man show. Young (26-9) used nine players between 11 and 29 minutes, and eight of them contributed to the scoring. And maybe more importantly than scoring, Young used as many as five players to defend Waukegan star Jereme Richmond.
The Dolphins used 18 fouls to do it. They held the Illinois recruit to just four baskets and never let him get into an offensive flow.
"They had a couple guys locked into me," said Richmond, who had 17 points, none in crunch time. "They made it hard to get my offensive game going. As a team, they did a great job defending us."
For all the hype about the matchup between Young's collection of stars and Richmond, the game hardly delivered.
Young played with a calm and cool efficiency, a product of its national schedule and experience in big games. Never once did the team look rattled or emotional, maybe because it controlled from the opening tip. Young led the entire game, with Waukegan managing ties at 2, 5 and 49.
In contrast, Waukegan (26-5) played with heart, determination and, sometimes, reckless abandon. The Bulldogs fell behind 21-8 to start the game but kept battling behind the intense hustle of 6-1 junior Quan Conner.
"I just tried to bring hustle and heart, anything I had to help my team," said Conner, who matched Richmond's 17 points. "I gave 200 percent, everything I had. We stayed right with them. It was right there for us."
After Waukegan tied the game at 49-49 at the beginning of the fourth, the Bulldogs kept looking for their engine to start, but Richmond couldn't get anything to fall. The 6-7 junior was 4-for-12 from the field. Of his 17 points, eight came from the free-throw line in 12 attempts.
Said Young coach Tyrone Slaughter: "Jereme Richmond is one of the best players in this country. We've been all over the country, and I'm not sure we've seen anyone better. The difference is our kids were committed to defending him."
With seniors Chris Colvin and Jordan running a tandem point, Young used its size advantage to score layup after layup. The Dolphins pounded it inside and almost dared Richmond to defend them. He blocked Young's first shot of the game but didn't have another one and didn't commit a foul until 3:23 remained.
The game's key sequence came at the one-minute mark.
Down four with a minute to play, Richmond missed a layup, got another chance from a dead-ball rebound and missed again. On the other end, Young sophomore Sam Thompson drove on Richmond for a layin, got the benefit of the block/charge call and made the free throw for a 65-58 Young led with :40 left.
"I thought that was a charge," Waukegan coach Ron Ashlaw said about the game's pivotal play. "We'll analyze this a thousand times on our way home, but we just battled. I'm just very proud of my guys."
From that point, Jordan wanted the ball in his hands. A thick 6-3, Jordan showed an effective handle against Waukegan's pressure, protected the ball and got to the line. Once there, he didn't miss.
"He's a big-time, money player," Slaughter said. "He's a winner that comes from a great pedigree but wanted a legacy to be his own, not what his dad did. I'm really proud of him."
Enjoy this video of the games highlights.
Thank GREG STEWART of PJSTAR.com for the story.
Posted by Like Mike at 7:12 PM