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Young’s Jahlil Okafor put on another dominating performance Wednesday. The Duke recruit scored 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked five shots in a 67-42 win over Red-West rival Marshall.
It was the Dolphins’ first game in Chicago since Dec. 16, but it wasn’t much of a homecoming for the nationally respected program.
Young started the game slow, letting Marshall stick around for the first half.
“I think it was a pretty poor performance,” Okafor said. “The first half we definitely had a letdown, we have a bad habit of playing down to our competition.”
The crowd at Young was sparse and quiet, consisting mainly of adults.
“The atmosphere at some of our home games is a little dry,” said Okafor. “I think kids at Young are too busy a lot of times to make it to the games.”
Despite the lack of crowd enthusiasm, the Dolphins owned the third quarter. They used a 12-0 run to take control of the game. It was a brutal quarter for Marshall, which finished with eight fouls (two technicals) and just two baskets. The Commandos turned the ball over 24 times in the game.
“At halftime (Young coach Tyrone Slaughter) told us to refocus,” said senior Miles Reynolds. “We came out sluggish, I think that was a result of maybe getting too much rest after being stuck in West Virginia for three days.”
Reynolds scored 18 points and Georgetown recruit Paul White added 13 points and six boards.
Jerwon Hudson led Marshall (4-6, 1-3) with 12 points.
No.8 Young (9-4, 3-0 Red-West) began the season as the top-ranked team in the area. Slaughter said he would give his team a B grade at just past the halfway mark of the season.
“We’ve lost a few buzzer beaters,” said Slaughter. “Every team we’ve lost to has won a state championship and three of the four are ranked in the top 20 in the country.”
Okafor was dominant and economical, shooting 7-for-9 from the field. He’s the defending Sun-Times Player of the Year, but is getting some major competition from Curie’s Cliff Alexander.
“When you look at the numbers (Okafor) has put up and the collection of teams he has done it against I think it is really difficult to compare,” said Slaughter. “We are playing against teams with six or seven Division I players and (Okafor) is averaging 26 points and shooting about 76 percent from the field.”
Okafor has kept an eye on Alexander’s progress the season. The players are club teammates and friends.
Curie and Young don’t have a regularly scheduled game this season, but the teams could possibly meet in the city and state playoffs. It would be a matchup for the ages, with two of the best big men in Chicago history facing off.
“I know winning Pontiac was a big deal for them,” said Okafor. “(Alexander) has been playing pretty well.”