By: Patrick Z. McGavin
Westinghouse entered its showdown against No. 2 Young hyped, excited and hopeful. It only took a few moments for Jahlil Okafor to deflate the heightened expectations.
The star 6-11 Dolphins junior center blocked a shot, grabbed a loose ball and promptly ignited a fastbreak he finished with a rim-wrecking dunk.
It went spectacularly downhill from there for the Warriors.
With Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Illinois coach John Groce part of the packed house, Okafor made Westinghouse suffer a very unlucky 13, going a perfect 13-of-13 from the floor in scoring 27 points as the host Dolphins destroyed the previously unbeaten and No. 25 Warriors 98-49 Friday.
Okafor played just 16 minutes and added nine rebounds, six blocks, two assists and a steal for the Dolphins (3-0, 2-0 Red-West). This was our first home game, and we were ready to come out and make a statement, he said.
Westinghouse (7-1, 1-1) scored the games opening basket on a soft jumper by Marlik Williams. Okafor scored eight points during a 14-0 Young explosion. He added three blocks during the charge, indicative of the Dolphins defensive intensity. My coaches have been stressing with me a lot about improving my defense, and Ive been spending a lot of time working on that part of my game, he said.
Westinghouse stayed around for a quarter, trailing just 15-7. Six-nine junior forward Paul White scored six of his 12 points during the quarter as Young blitzed Westinghouse with a 26-9 run for a commanding 41-16 lead at the break. White added seven rebounds and three blocked shots. The interior defense forced Westinghouse players to repeatedly force or rush shots at the rim. Westinghouse managed only six field goals in the first half.
It did not help Westinghouse its biggest inside player, 6-5 center Darrell Gant, suffered a shoulder injury early in the second quarter and did not return. Okafor was unstoppable. In the third quarter, he scored 15 points during a 33-point explosion. He punctuated his dominant performance by hitting a soft elbow jumper and a three-pointer from the top of the key. I got frustrated over the summer about always being double-teamed, and I spent a lot of time working on my shot, he said.
Junior swingman L.J. Peak scored eight of his 12 points in the first half. Sophomore Joseph Toye contributed 12 points off the bench. Senior guard Miles Reynolds added eight points. Ten different Young players scored. Even with two transfers and several players in their first year of varsity competition, Young has demonstrated impressive chemistry. I can truthfully say on this team everybody really likes each other, Okafor said.
Senior forward Dewan White scored 13 points for the Warriors. Junior guard Dequantis Jackson added 11 points.
The Dolphins also showed no mercy. One difference between this years team is that it doesnt take any days off, Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. We saw that Westinghouse beat a good Marshall team the other day, and that certainly caught our attention.
Ive said it already, and I dont want to detract from any of the other great players, but I firmly believe Jahlil is the No. 1 player in the country. The other thing is, I dont think theres anybody that can stick him one-one-one, Slaughter said.