Whitney Young coach Corry Irvin came back to her alma mater on Saturday afternoon for the Mac Irvin Diabetes Classic.
Her Dolphins opened their season against nationally-ranked Rolling Meadows team (7-0) which was ranked No. 1 in the Chicago area by one publication.
"She (Irvin) wanted us to make sure we represented her well at her high school and start our the season out right," said Dolphins 6-foot-5 forward Khaalia Hillsman (8 points, 13 rebounds), a Texas A & M recruit. "She didn't want to lose in her hometown where she was a Hall of Fame player."
The Dolphins did not let their coach down, who indeed is an Elgin Sports Hall of Famer, running past the Mustangs 54-40 in the only girls game of the day in the event, which also featured four boys game.
Rebounding was the story of the day, especially on the offensive end where Whitney Young grabbed 20 boards in the first half and led 28-16 at the break.
More than once, the Dolphins were able to get 3 or more rebounds on one possession.
"We talk every day about hitting the boards," said Irvin, a 1992 Larkin grad whose team outrebounded the Mustangs 53-28. "That might be our best offense -- offensive rebounding."
Meadows senior Jackie Kemph's running 12 footer in the lane and a free throw one minute later made it 3-0.
The Dolphins, who missed 12 of their first 13 shots, got a rebound layup from Hillsman for its first points with 4:32 left in the period. Young sophomore Kiara Lewis (game-high 17 points, 14 rebounds), who did not play as a freshman because of a torn ACL, hit a 3-pointer to give the Dolphins their first lead at 7-6.
Northwestern-bound Alexis Glasgow, who led Meadows with 12 points, answered with a pair of free throws to give her team its last lead at 8-7.
Whitney Young junior Madinah Muhammad tossed home a 3-pointer to trigger an 10-0 run from which Meadows would never recover.
The Dolphins' biggest lead was 36-16 which with 5:30 left in the third quarter.
"My first reaction is that they're better than us right now," said Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky, who also had a homecoming on Saturday returning to the school where he had first full-time teaching job in 1999 and 2000 as an English teacher (he also served as the freshman girls basketball coach).
"To me, they're the best rebounding team in the state. Obviously, that's something we have to work on in practice if we want to beat the top teams in the state."
Senior Jenny Vliet (7 points, who pulled to within 7 points of 1,000 for her career, pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds while classmate Ashley Montanez had 8.
"Their starting five has been together a long time," Irvin said. "They have nice team chemistry. "They are a very good and smart team."
Kemph added 11 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds while Glasgow had 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
"They were an awesome rebounding team and we didn't come in ready for that," Kemph said. "Hopefully, next time we will.
"We learned we need to be more aggressive and now we got to see we have a lot of things to improve on. That's what we will do in practice this week."
Glasgow said the game provided the Mustangs a measuring stick and she addressed the rebounding issue.
"Obviously, things matter more during the state playoffs," she said. "But this was a wake-up call. We've got to box out harder and play better at the start of the game. There were glimpses of good things but we've got to do them for 32 minutes."
Southern Methodist recruit Taylor Brame grabbed 14 rebounds and added 8 points for Whitney Young.
"Because of the event (finding a cure for diabetes) and because I went to high school here, it was a big win," Irvin said. "I know it was only our first game but it's a good way to start.
"I was a little concerned because we hadn't had a game yet, and they had seven. At the beginning, we had a lot of jitters, rushing stuff on offense. But it's just the first game. It's not the state championship or anything like that."
Kirkorsky felt Whitney Young's ability to get to the offensive boards in the first half was the biggest difference.
"That was the story of the game," he said. "I'm proud of my kids. We challenged them at half and saw better things in the second half."
Whitney Young, a Chicago Public League powerhouse, won the Class 4A state titles in 2012 and 2008, was second in 2009 and 2010 and fourth in 2011.
"These are the kind of teams you want to be playing now," Kirkorsky added. "It's great because it shows you what you need to work on."