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Young celebrates Senior Day in style

02/05/2014, 8:49pm CST
By Patrick Z. McGavin

Young began its quest for back-to-back city titles with an easy 71-54 rout of Schurz on Senior Day Wednesday. Jahlil Okafor scored 18 points and added 15 rebounds, five blocked shots and two assists in the win.

The time capsule breezed by Jahlil Okafor. As great as he has been, his time at Young was swift and tantalizingly brief.

“It was surreal to believe that today was my last home game at Young as a Dolphin,” the 6-1 superstar center said.

Okafor made it count, as usual.

He scored 18 points and added 15 rebounds, five blocked shots and two assists as defending city champion No. 2 Young used an 18-2 second quarter run to breeze by Schurz 71-54 in a first round Public League tournament game Wednesday at home.

On Senior Day, Okafor celebrated with classmates, 6-9 Georgetown-recruit Paul White, 6-2 Saint Louis University-recruit Miles Reynolds and reserves Erwin Henry and Joseph Luzadder in the rout. “Like I said, it’s just hard to believe,” Okafor said.

“Going back to my freshman year, when we had guys like Luke Hager and Sam Thompson, you realized then how much they appreciated Young and now I’m in the same position, and it’s kind of bizarre, because it went by so fast.”

White started the game and shot a three-pointer on the Dolphins’ opening possession before departing for good to rest lower body soreness. Okafor sat out the final four minutes and Reynolds scored just five points in a secondary role.

Henry was the beneficiary of the Dolphins’ conservative approach. He scored all 15 of his points in the first half. He was the catalyst of the dominant second quarter run that put the game out of reach. He scored 10 consecutive points, draining a three-pointer from the left baseline and adding a putback, as Young scored the first 13 points of the quarter.

Young (18-5) led just 14-10 after the first quarter. The second quarter blitz was part of a dominant 27-9 run that extended the marging to 41-19 at the break. “We weren’t so serious at the start, we wanted to get the win, and congratulations to the seniors,” Henry said.

“I came in right away because Paul was resting, and my role is pretty much the same, just play [defense] and also be a three-point shooter,” he said. “I really enjoyed my four years here.”

Schurz (15-9) finished second in the White-North and faced the monumental task. The Bulldogs struggled at the start, going more than four minutes without scoring. Schurz did forge one tie, at six apiece and grabbed the Dolphins’ attention.

Senior guard Deven Weathers is one of the most underrated and unknown players in the city. He scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the second half for the Bulldogs.

Okafor showcased his all-around game, throwing down four dunks and also nailing a three-pointer from the right wing late in the third quarter.

As the top-rated player in the senior class, Okafor has commanded a national stage and Young has played games in California, Texas, Florida, Oregon, Minnesota and Tennessee. All five of the Dolphins’ defeats have come to programs outside of Illinois.

Until the Dolphins lost to Mater Dei (Calif.) last Saturday night, Young was unbeaten in the new year. Young is 11-1 since January 1.

“In the year 2014, I’d give us a B-,” Okafor said. “We played Mater Dei on their home court, where they haven’t lost since 2009 and that night, they were just better than us. One thing [the national schedule] has done is really helped us to bond, forced us to communicate [better] and brought us together.”

Rodney Herenton Jr. added 13 points for the Dolphins and Skyler Nash contributed seven points and five rebounds. Nine different Young players scored.

Chazz Jackson contributed 10 points and Tavarus Sanders added eight points for the Bulldogs.

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