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Young’s Erwin Henry the unlikely hero in high-profile matchup

12/12/2013, 10:44pm CST
By Michael O’Brien | mobrien@suntimes.com | @michaelsobrien

Young senior Erwin Henry had a career-high 14 points and changed the tone of the game as Young escaped Apple Valley, Minn., with a 80-70 win Thursday in a matchup televised on ESPN2.

Sometimes, in a high-profile, nationally televised game in a hostile gym a few hundred miles from home, a team needs an extra boost to get the win.

Thursday in Apple Valley, Minn., Erwin Henry provided exactly that for Young.

Henry opened the game with a three and hit another a few minutes later, changing the tone of the game and helping to propel the Dolphins to an 80-70 win over the Eagles. The senior guard finished with a career-high 14 points.

“Erwin is a guy that has been in the program for four years, he has had to take a backseat to other guys,” Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “He ultimately got his chance and he is making the most of it. He was tremendous for us today. You need guys to do that, guys that are left off the scouting report.”

Apple Valley (5-1) entered the game riding a 35-game win streak, the Eagles were the Class 4A state champions in Minnesota last season.

The game was televised on ESPN2 and scheduled as a showcase for Duke’s recruiting class. Young’s Jahlil Okafor and Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones have both signed with the Blue Devils. They are also best friends.

Jones had a rough first half, scoring just four points. He’s considered the top point guard in the national class of 2014, and started to show why in the second half (Minnesota plays two 18-minute halves in high school), scoring 25 points. His three-pointer with 1:25 to play cut the Dolphins’ lead to 74-67, but Young shot 6-for-6 from the free throw line from then on to seal the win.

“We knew [Jones] would come, we knew he wasn’t done trying,” Slaughter said. “You can’t say enough about him, he is so unselfish. He did a great job of keeping his team involved.”

Turnovers were one problem spot for Young. The Dolphins committed 20 in the game. They had a rough time handling full-court pressure for a stretch in the second half, but ultimately ended up beating it for several Okafor dunks.

We didn’t know very much about what [Apple Valley] would do, we didn’t see any tape of them,” Slaughter said. “But we have continued to prepare for pressure. When they threw it on we didn’t get organized early. The longer we played the better we did.”

Okafor finished with 22 points and 18 rebounds. Paul White added 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Miles Reynolds scored 18 and guard Ant Mosley contributed nine points for Young (2-1).

All five starters played the entire game for Young. Slaughter said his top two options off the bench, Skyler Nash and Rodney Herenton, were sick.

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