BOYS BASKETBALL: Rochester rides All-American Young's superb outing to regional title
The votes have already been cast, but Rochester senior All-American James Young made one final and very loud statement regarding his candidacy for the state's Mr. Basketball award just for good measure.
Young took over the game Wednesday night in the second half of the Falcons Class A regional final match-up with Bloomfield Hills Lahser, tacking on another page to the legendary local schoolboy lore he’s created for himself the past four years.
As the contest hung in the balance, Young picked his team up, placed it upon his back and flew to the finish line.
The University of Kentucky-bound swingman and recent McDonald’s All-American selection scored 19 of his game-high 27 points in the closing 10 minutes of play to make a laugher of what looked like a potential-barnburner, leading Rochester to a 65-41 win and the program’s first regional crown since 1950.
"James is fantastic, he's does so much and he's so unselfish when he's doing it," said Falcons head coach John Pleasant of his star. "When we needed him, he came through, just like he's been doing for us all season long."
Pleasant and his Rochester squad (21-4) will square off with Detroit Southeastern in the state quarterfinals Tuesday night down at Calihan Hall on the campus of the University of Detroit-Mercy.
Monday could bring a Mr. Basketball nod for Young, a frontrunner for the award set to be announced that morning.
Rochester held a 23-19 advantage at the half Wednesday and went behind midway through the third quarter when Lahser’s own superstar, junior center Yante Maten (14 points, 10 rebounds), drained a jumper from the foul line, to place the Knights on top 27-26.
That’s when Young, after a relatively quiet opening two and a half quarters of play, erupted like a volcano.
His back-to-back steals resulted in Falcons junior point guard Jason Lee (6 points, 8 assists) heading a pair of fast-breaks, each ending in buckets - the first by junior forward Mike Murri (6 points, 5 rebounds) and the second from senior center Arben Camaj (10 points, 6 rebounds) -, permanently swinging momentum in Rochester's direction.
Then Young’s own offense started to sizzle.
As if it was a plate of flaming cheese at a restaurant in Greektown.
To end the third quarter, he put in six straight points, jumpstarting his personal scoring barrage by swishing a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key and then draining three consecutive free throws after being fouled on a shot beyond the arc.
Two more quick baskets to open the fourth quarter were followed by a steal and an assist in transition to reserve forward Johnny Corsetti, who dropped in a left-handed lay-up to make it 47-34 with 5:45 remaining.
The dagger was a trifecta of highlight-reel scores where Young shook defenders to hit tough shots with defenders in his face, the final of which launched Rochester in front 56-34 with 4:05 left and sent a large chunk of the capacity crowd flooding to the parking lot for an early exit.
Young’s final stat line on the evening was another swanky one. Adding to his 27 points, he snared 12 rebounds, swiped five steals and gave away four assists.
Back on Monday in the regional semifinals against Romeo, he scored 24 points and collected 10 boards in front of his future college coach, John Calapari, who sat behind the Falcons bench rooting on his prized recruit.
In the moments after Wednesday’s game, Young was modest, choosing to spread the praise around to his teammates, instead of focusing on his personal outstanding effort down the stretch.
“We’re getting contributions from a lot of different people and I'm just filling my role,” he said. “We would never have gotten this far without everyone chipping in and doing their part. You saw that tonight.”
This is Young's first year at Rochester. The past three seasons he had been at Troy, transferring out of the district back in August.
Also hitting double-figures for Rochester Wednesday was senior forward Manny Mendoza. The Wayne State football-signee had 11 points and six rebounds for the winning club and gave a stellar defensive effort in the post helping contain Maten.