Whitney Young High School won its first Public League basketball title since 1998. Young beat Morgan Park 60-56 in overtime at Chicago State University for the win.
Young had many talented teams recently, but the Dolphins have been unable to win the CPS championship. In 2009 Young won the Illinois 4A championship with Marcus Jordan.
The Public League is very strong and competitive this season when you consider the four semifinalists were in the top ten city and state rankings during the regular season.
The Dolphins (23-3) beat Morgan Park (26-3) as Young center Jahlil Okafor turned in an outstanding performance with 19 points, 15 rebounds, and seven blocked shots. Okafor, who attended grammar school in Rosemont, blocked a shot as time expired to send the contest into overtime.
“He’s player of the year,” Young head coach Tyrone Slaughter said.
“He’s the best big man in the country,” Morgan Park head coach Nick Irvin said. “He played a great game.”
Okafor kept his team in the game by scoring 14 points in the first half as Morgan Park led 28-21.
The Mustangs did a better job on Okafor in the second half by limiting the talented junior to only three points. Okafor received more offensive support from his teammates in the second half as LJ Peak, who transferred to Young from Gaffney High school in South Carolina scored 11 points. Peak finished with 15 points.
Okafor made 8-of-12 shots in the title game at Chicago State.
Miles Reynolds (13 points) tied the game at 51-51 on a three-pointer with 57 seconds left in regulation.
Morgan Park played for the last shot when Okafor blocked an attempt by Billy Garrett, Jr., who will attend DePaul.
Okafor blocked another shot in overtime and scored four points including two critical free throws with 23.8 seconds left.
Garrett and Kyle Davis each scored 12 points for Morgan Park.
One thing that helps Young attract talented basketball players is the school’s academic and athletic reputation. “Playing in the Public League is the toughest conference in the state,” Slaughter said. “Everyone wants to win the Public League championship and we were fortunate this year to get that done.”
In the semifinals, Morgan Park defeated three-time defending state champion Simeon (22-3) by stunning the Wolverines 54-53 in overtime. The Mustangs prevailed after blowing a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“It’s not the worst thing in the world,” Simeon head coach Robert Smith told reporters after the emotional loss.
Garrett won this intense rematch for Morgan Park on a basket with 11 seconds left in overtime.
Okafor was a big factor with 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead Young past Orr (23-3) 66-53.
Orr beat Young 50-47 to win the Red West section championship.
Simeon still figures to be a team to watch in the future after beating Morgan Park to win the sophomore basketball title. The Wolverines have won five state basketball titles and six CPS titles in hoops.
The North side curse continued in the city playoffs as Young topped Foreman (15-5) 72-41 in the Public League quarterfinals. No North side school has won the city championship since Roosevelt in 1952.
Lane (11-16) lost in embarrassing fashion to Morgan Park 123-51 while Lake View (17-5) finished second in the Blue North section.
Amundsen struggled in the Red North as the Vikings were 0-9 in section play this past season.
The next major challenge for the fabulous four from the Public League will be the state playoffs, which begin Monday, February 18. Orr or Morgan Park could win the Class 3A title while Simeon or Young could capture the Class 4A title.