Barrington puts up a fight, but falls to Whitney Young in semifinals
CHAMPAIGN -- Barrington turned over an opportunity to advance to the state championship game.
The Broncos turned the ball over 16 times, including three in final three minutes Friday that allowed Whitney Young to rally for a 51-47 win in the Class 4A boys basketball state semifinals at State Farm Center.
"I am really proud of the guys sitting next to me here," Barrington coach Bryan Tucker said in the postgame news conference.
"I am a very fortunate coach and a very spoiled coach to have such a great group. Obviously I am feeling for them to lose a heartbreaker like that with how much effort they put in."
Whitney Young, which has won four state titles, will be looking for another on Saturday. The Dolphins (24-9) advanced to the state title game and will play either Glenbard West or Bolingbrook.
Barrington (28-5), which had a 15-game winning streak snapped, was making its first trip to the state finals since 1977.
"Whitney Young did a great job defensively," said Tucker, whose team turned the ball over 11 times in the second half. "We got a little uncomfortable in the second half.
"Sometimes teams get a little bit nervous and shy away from the big moment. But not these guys."
The Broncos got off to a fast start. Led by Daniel Hong, Will Grudzinski and Evan Jon-Baptiste, the Broncos rattled off 16 unanswered points to lead 20-7 with 1:22 left in the first quarter.
"I think our chemistry was really good," said Hong, who finished with 11 points. "We spend a lot of time, just not this weekend, but the whole season, bonding. We really seized the opportunity."
Whitney Young tried to stay close thanks to the play Marcus Pigrim, who came off the bench to score 10 of his 12 points in the second quarter.
Grudzinski, who is a relative unknown outside the Northwest suburbs, made sure the Broncos stayed on top. The 6-foot-6 senior banged down some huge shots as Barrington took a 31-24 halftime lead.
"My teammates were helping me get open," said Grudzinski, who finished with 24 points, including 4 3-pointers.
"I wouldn't be anywhere without these guys. We were the underdog and came out with heart."
Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said Grudzinski was difficult to contain.
"The biggest part for us was to try to lock him in," Slaughter said. "It was a team effort."
Whitney Young's length and pressure began to bother Barrington in the third quarter, The Broncos missed 5 consecutive shots and tuned the ball over 6 times, including on their first 3 possessions.
That enabled the Dolphins to jump back into the game. They scored 10 unanswered points to pull ahead 34-31.
"You can't duplicate that anywhere," Tucker said. "Their athleticism as well as their length, you can't duplicate that anywhere. That is a pretty tough combination."
Despite the pressure and falling behind and Barrington showed why it was able to advance downstate.
Twice Grudzinski hit 3-pointers and the Broncos pulled even with the Dolphins at 37-37 headed to the final quarter.
Barrington was able to figure out the Dolphins' defensive strategy to begin the final quarter. Hong had a layup and a 3-pointer as Barrington pulled ahead 42-39.
After a Young basket, Grudzinski answered with a jumper and the Broncos led 44-41 with 3:29 to play.
Young turned up the pressure, forcing three consecutive turnovers by the Broncos. The Dolphins made Barrington pay on the other end of the court, scoring 8 consecutive points to lead 49-44 with 43.7 seconds left.
Jno-Baptiste, who finished with 10 points, drilled a 3-pointer with 11.5 seconds left to cut the deficit to two at 49-47. But a pair of Young free throws by Xavier Amos, who was playing with a migraine, ended Barrington's title hopes.
"I knew we would battle," Tucker said. "That's how this team has been all year."