HINSDALE, Ill. -- Layers of Whitney Young’s players, coaches, family members and students hugged, kissed, cried, shouted, jumped around and celebrated in every other kind of way on Hinsdale Central’s basketball floor on Monday night.
In the center of it all stood Whitney Young senior Janee Thompson. She was passed around from person to person like a freshly baked batch of cookies. Everyone wanted a piece of the person responsible for finally dethroning Bolingbrook.
In what will undoubtedly go down as one of the state’s greatest high school girls basketball games, No. 2 Whitney Young defeated No. 1 Bolingbrook 74-65 in four overtimes in the Class 4A Hinsdale Central super-sectional on Monday.
It was the first time Whitney Young knocked off Bolingbrook since 2008. The Raiders had ended Whitney Young’s season the past three years and gone on to win three consecutive state titles.
“It really feels good,” Thompson said when she finally got around to the media. “We wanted to do it for all our past players and ourselves. We’ve been working extremely hard, and I think this group deserves it the most.”
Bolingbrook (26-2) looked as if it might be the grim reaper to Whitney Young (32-0) for a fourth consecutive year in the early goings of Monday’s game. Behind McDonald’s All-American forward Morgan Tuck, the Raiders jumped on Whitney Young and led 18-9 after one quarter. Tuck had five points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal in the first quarter.
Thompson, also a McDonald’s All-American, wasn’t going out like that, though. With the Raiders ahead 22-10, Thompson took the game into her own hands. She went on a personal 11-3 run, scoring inside and out and pulled the Dolphins back into the contest. She capped off her memorable second quarter with back-to-back assists to trim Bolingbrook’s lead to 26-25.
“We never gave up,” Thompson said.
Thompson later appeared to deliver a possible dagger for Bolingbrook when she sank two free throws with 7.2 seconds remaining in regulation to give Whitney Young a 47-44 lead.
But this game wasn’t meant to end in four quarters.
Bolingbrook’s Keiera Ray got the inbounds’ pass, pushed the ball up court, pulled up from just beyond the 3-point line and her high-arcing shot fell through the net at the buzzer to send the game into its first overtime.
It was just the start.
In the second overtime, Bolingbrook went ahead 50-47, but Thompson answered with a 3-pointer. Thompson then put Whitney Young ahead 52-50 with two free throws, and Tuck forced another overtime with a bucket in the lane with 24.4 second left.
The third overtime included even more drama. Bolingbrook’s Kennedy Cattenhead put her team ahead 57-54 with a 3-pointer. On the following possession, Thompson fired back with a 3-pointer. Nia Moore then gave Bolingbrook a 63-60 lead with a layup with 37.6 seconds left.
Thompson tried to be hero again, but she missed one 3-pointer and then had another 3-pointer blocked. After the second miss, Whitney Young’s Alexis Lloyd found herself with the ball on the right wing. She drove hard to the basket and scored while being fouled with 5.1 seconds. After Bolingbrook tried to ice Harper with a timeout, she calmly sank the free throw to deliver the game into the decisive fourth overtime.
In the final overtime, Whitney Young finally prevailed. Tied at 65, Harper scored on a layup with 2:46 left. After a Bolingbrook turnover, Thompson made two more free throws. After another Raiders’ turnover, Thompson put the game out of reach with two more free-throw makes.
“Young hung in there and fought,” Bolingbrook coach Anthony Smith said. “We both fought. It was a heavyweight fight. Young came out with the win. We wish nothing but the best for them.”
Whitney Young coach Corry Irvin would later try to explain what it was like to be involved in such a game.
“It was just a lot of excitement,” Irvin said. “The way the intensity was on both ends of the court, I’m sure it was great to watch. It was just fun to coach in.”
Thompson finished with a game-high 34 points and was 13 of 14 from the free-throw line.
“I thought Janee was awesome,” Irvin said. “She did what she’s supposed to do. She’s an All-American. She’s supposed to carry her team in the end, and that’s what she did. That’s what we expected of her.”
Tuck finished with a team-high 16 points and 13 rebounds. Cattenhead (13 points), Moore (14 points, seven rebounds, eight blocks) and Ray (14 points) contributed for the Raiders.
Lloyd (10 points) and Harper (16 points, nine rebounds) also contributed for the Dolphins.