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Jahlil Okafor doesn’t need any extra motivation. The 6-10 center is on a mission to bring another state title to Young.

Friday against St. Rita in the Class 4A Marist Sectional final, Okafor found himself facing a man-to-man defense in the first half. That unusual strategy wasn’t enough to slow down Okafor, who instead shifted into overdrive. The Duke recruit had 35 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks as the Dolphins knocked off St. Rita 75-66.

“Jahlil Okafor was the best player in the country tonight,” Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “It was a big-time performance from a big-time player at a big-time moment.”

A three-pointer from Paul White at the end of the third quarter gave the Dolphins (26-5) a 49-48 lead. Okafor opened the fourth with a slam that ignited a 7-0 run to lead 56-48. The Mustangs (21-8) never got closer than six after that.

“They came out in a man [defense],” Okafor said. “If you know me, you know I get excited about that.”

Okafor shot 11-for-13 and dunked the ball seven times.

“No one man can stick him,” Slaughter said. “There aren’t any two players that can stick him.”

Miles Reynolds scored 14 for Young and Paul White added 12 points, six rebounds and three assists.

“We get every team’s best shot,” Okafor said. “We have four seniors in the lineup and we’ve been through a lot together so I always feel like we’re prepared.”

Dominique Matthews led St. Rita with 20 points and five rebounds. His younger brother Charles added 17 points and seven rebounds. Vic Law scored 14 and grabbed 14 rebounds.

“This is the toughest time of year,” Slaughter said. “People don’t want to go home. It’s about taking punches and keeping going. They played very well.”

Charles Matthews grabbed a steal and raced down court to beat the halftime buzzer with a dunk. The basket put the Mustangs ahead 34-33.

“They are a really good team,” St. Rita coach Gary DeCesare said. “Okafor is a heck of a player, he is hard to guard. We figured we would let him get his and then stop the other guys.”

Young will face Loyola in the Chicago State Supersectional on Tuesday. St. Rita’s season is over.

“This was a special team,” DeCesare said. “Our senior were a magical group. They came in here four years ago and trusted me and worked hard and brought St. Rita basketball to a new level.”

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