Boys Basketball: Young rides Jahlil Okafor past St RitaYoung's Jermaine Morgan gets a shot up past St. Rita's Marty Tabb (42) and Tony Hicks (24). Patrick Gleason ~ For the Sun-Times
Updated: March 2, 2012 9:54PM
Whitney Young and St. Rita both entered Friday’s game at or around double-digit losses on the season thanks to difficult schedules. Although their records don’t match the gaudy win-loss marks of many others in the Sun-Times Super 25, the No. 13 Dolphins showed how dangerous of a matchup they could be the rest of the playoffs with a 64-56 win over the No. 20 Mustangs in Friday’s Class 4A Regional Final at Young.
Riding the interior scoring of super sophomore Jahlil Okafor, Young (16-10) never trailed in the second half after a 33-33 tie at halftime. Okafor finished with a game-high 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
“We knew it was going to take a lot of effort to beat (St. Rita), Okafor said. “They’re a good team; guard-oriented. We knew they would want to push, but we tried to keep it inside.”
Clinging to a 55-51 lead with five minutes remaining, the Dolphins used an 8-0 run to gain a 63-51 lead with two minutes remaining. Okafor converted two layups during the run and was also intentionally fouled after a physical foul put him to the ground.
“Teams have been that (physical) with me all year,” Okafor said. “I just have to play through it and I’ve gotten used to it.”
Free-throw shooting was the major Achilles heel for St. Rita (15-11), as they were within striking distance most of the game but couldn’t overcome a horrid 8-for-24 finish from the charity stripe.
Senior Tony Hicks led St. Rita with 20 points while sophomore Dominique Matthews added 13 points.
UIC-recruit Gabriel Snyder came off the bench to score all 10 of his points in the second half for Young. Young advances to face rival and two-time defending Class 4A champion Simeon on Tuesday at the Argo Sectional semifinal.