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.
Whitney Young trailed, 53-47, with 48 seconds remaining in regulation before four missed Curie free throws and 3-pointers from Rodney Herenton and Miles Reynolds tied the game and sentit into overtime.
After a first overtime that saw a lot of Curie holding the ball, the Condors did more of the same the second, third and fourth overtimes. After spending most of the game on the bench, Curie guard Kamar Marshall buried a 3-pointer from the corner with 0.9 seconds left to give Curie the city title.
"I knew I was coming in (when Joseph Stamps fouled out), and coach just always told me to be ready," Marshall said. "So I stayed ready."
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. Whitney Young tied the game up at 38-38 to end the third quarter after trailing 28-22 at halftime.
"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."
Okafor finished with 16 points and three rebounds but was saddled with foul trouble for much of the game and fouled out with 2:19 remaining in regulation. The Duke commit couldn't play a minute of the four overtimes and sat on the bench anxiously watching his teammates compete for a city title.
"He got into some bad foul situations, so he couldn't be on the floor, " Whitney Young head coach Tyrone Slaughter said after the game. "I think that he was extremely effective when he was on the floor. I think if he plays 16 more minutes we have a chance to win this game."
Paul White was also superb in the second half for the Dolphins as the senior Georgetown commit finished with a team-high 19 points. After a scoreless first half, senior guard Miles Reynolds, a Saint Louis commit, finished with 11 points, including a tying 3-pointer near the end of regulation, as well as two crucial free throws in overtime to keep the Dolphins alive.
[RELATED: CSN Preps Basketball Power Rankings: Week 12]
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.