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2/15/13 Chicago-Whitney Youngs Paul White drives against Morgan Park. Stacia TImonere
It was a statement game for a program and a player Friday in the Public League title game at Chicago State.
Young has lived in Simeon’s shadow for the past decade. Coach Tyrone Slaughter has built a national powerhouse on the Near West side, but the Wolverines have always garnered more attention. Simeon had Derrick Rose, Jabari Parker and three consecutive state titles.
Young is catching up quickly. The Dolphins have Jahlil Okafor, the top player in the nation in the Class of 2014 and the best big man the city has seen in a generation.
“Of course I hear that, I’m on Twitter,” Okafor said. “I don’t get into that stuff, though. There have been so many good players in Chicago.”
Okafor was the dominant force in No. 4 Young’s 60-56 overtime win over No. 2 Morgan Park. He scored 19 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked seven shots, none bigger than his swat of Billy Garrett Jr.’s potential game-winner at the end of regulation.
“I had a feeling he was going to shoot it,” Okafor said. “It was a big play.”
Okafor shot 8-for-13 from the floor and his presence alone seemed to destroy Morgan Park’s offense in overtime. The Mustangs’ talented trio of guards were able to penetrate, but couldn’t score with Okafor looming. Even the big men, 6-7 Josh Cunningham and Lamont Walker, were unable to convert against Okafor in the final four minutes.
“He is the player of this year and last year and next year,” Slaughter said of Okafor. “There is no one that can stop him.”
Junior Miles Reynolds’ three-pointer with 53 seconds to play was the biggest shot of the game. It tied the score at 51, setting up Garrett’s final attempt. Reynolds finished with 13 points.
‘‘He has made shots like that all year,’’ Slaughter said. ‘‘He was open and he took his chance.’’
Junior LJ Peak (15 points, five rebounds) and Okafor each scored to open overtime, giving the Dolphins (23-3) a four-point lead they would never relinquish.
It’s Young’s first city championship since winning back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998. George Stanton, who coached those teams, spoke with the Dolphins before the game.
“It feels great to win this for the school,” Okafor said. “This was one of our goals from the start of the season.”
Kyle Davis led Morgan Park (26-3) with 11 points and six rebounds, Garrett scored 10, Walker had nine points and 13 rebounds, and Cunningham added nine points and five rebounds.
“It’s a huge step for us,” Slaughter said. “It means a lot to me personally since I’ve never won one.”
Simeon defeated Morgan Park 51-38 to win the sophomore city championship. It was a balanced scoring effort with Edward Morrow leading the way with 11, Ben Coupet and Zach Norvell added 10 points apiece in the victory.