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Curie vs Whitney Young 4OT highlights on SportsCenter right now !
Jahlil and Cliff embrace after 4OT battle instagram.com/p/ktUfYIvf0w/
Chicago Sun-Times Photos
It was billed by some local basketball analysts as the "Game of the Decade" in Illinois high school basketball, and Friday's city title game at Chicago State between No. 1 Curie and No. 4 Whitney Young certainly didn't disappoint.
In a matchup that was headlined by the country's top two high school basketball players — Curie 6-foot-8 senior Cliff Alexander and Whitney Young 6-foot-10 senior Jahlil Okafor — it was Curie and Alexander that got the best of the Dolphins with a 69-66 quadruple-overtime win.
…The Condors (24-1) led most of the game and had a huge first quarter from Stamps as the lefty guard scored 15 of his game-high 26 points in the first quarter before Alexander settled in and started producing.
Alexander, a Kansas commit, finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds for Curie as the Condors held off a second-half surge from the Dolphins to earn the city title.
…"We fought through it, we stuck through it and fought through the whole game," Alexander said. "We ran extra sprints in practice, and we wanted to be city champions."
The Condors captured their first-ever city championship, bolstering their already impressive resume that includes a win in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament and the Public League Red-Central Conference title, as well as a win over former national No. 1 Montverde. It's the state's most impressive resume heading into the Class 4A state playoffs, and Curie figures to be the favorite for that championship following Friday's win. The city championship and the win in the Pontiac tournament were both firsts for the Condors, and they're hoping to pick up another first in the playoffs — a state title.
But the Dolphins could get in the way of the Condors' state-title hopes. The two teams could meet in sectional play as part of a loaded Marist Sectional which also includes De La Salle, Mount Carmel, St. Rita and Simeon. Whitney Young and Curie will be two of the four big favorites to win the Class 4A state championship, along with No. 2 Stevenson and No. 3 Marian Catholic.
Friday's win also gives Alexander a 2-1 career varsity record against Okafor. During the pair's sophomore season, Alexander and Curie won, 59-47, at the Whitney Young Shootout. And last year, Okafor and the Dolphins emerged victorious, winning, 62-58, in a Class 4A sectional matchup.
But, even if the teams don't meet up in this season's playoffs, Friday won't be the final time Alexander and Okafor play against each other. They'll be on opposite teams in the McDonald's All-American Game at the United Center on April 2.
"I got kind of scared when Joe (Stamps) fouled out (in the fourth OT), but I had faith in Kamar," Alexander said. "I told him if he's open to shoot, and he did. We all had confidence in him."
Curie — Cliff Alexander, 20 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks.
Marshall played significant minutes for Curie at the beginning of the season, but was inconsistent and spent most of the last two months on the bench. When Stamps fouled out with 2:14 left in the fourth overtime, he checked into the game.
“I was a little scared,” said Marshall. “But (Curie coach Mike Oliver) says to always be ready.
Marshall says he has hit five three-pointers this season, Stamps thought that might have been his first. Regardless, it will go down as the biggest shot in Curie history.
…Curie held the ball for the majority of the first, second and third overtimes. Alexander made two free throws with 1:47 to play in the fourth overtime. Those were the last points until Marshall’s heroics.
The biggest game of the year lived up to its billing.
In a four-overtime slugfest, Curie prevailed over Whitney Young 69-66 Friday night on a corner three by senior Kamar Marshall in the game’s final seconds. The Condors hoisted their first-ever Chicago Public League championship after an extremely close contest that will go down in history as one of the most exciting games to ever take place in the state of Illinois.
“We just kept our composure,” said Curie head coach Mike Oliver. “I told our guys to keep grinding it out. In a heavyweight fight, when you’ve got the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the state, No. 1 and No. 2 players in the country, nothing’s going to be easy. We just had to keep playing.”
The battle between talented big men Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander was widely hyped entering the game, and for good reason. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel looked on as Whitney Young’s Okafor and his Curie counterpart Alexander traded blows and buckets the entire way. Both made sure to leave it on the court, Alexander posting 20 points and 12 rebounds and Okafor with 16 points of his own.
It looked like the game was all over at the end of regulation. Okafor fouled out with 2:17 in the fourth quarter, attempting to block a shot by Alexander that temporarily dashed Young’s title hopes. Curie took a six-point lead in the ensuing minute behind a monster dunk from Alexander, but the Dolphins clawed back…
…Despite the theatrics, the spotlight remained on the Okafor-Alexander matchup—even after the final buzzer sounded.
“I don’t wanna put rankings on these guys, but Cliff is a hell of a player,” said Oliver. “He deserves the No. 1 ranking, but if he doesn’t get it, it doesn’t put any blemish on what he did tonight.”
Though Okafor and Alexander are close friends and former AAU teammates, Okafor said the matchup was “strictly business.”
“Because of the hype, I was pretty surprised they came out in a [2-3] zone,” he said. “I told my coach I wanted to play man to man the whole game, and he trusted me to do that. Cliff played hard like he always does. I wish I could be in his shoes and be a city champion.”