It didn’t take long for No. 2 Young to show visiting De La Salle who the Dolphins are and what they can do. The chants of “overrated” weren’t heard on this night.
The Dolphins dominated from start to finish and cruised to an easy 73-60 win for the Class 4A Young Regional title. The Meteors (14-11) didn’t have an answer for Duke-bound Jahlil Okafor and his teammates.
Okafor finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and seven blocked shots. Twelve of his first 14 points were man-against-boy dunks that dazzled the crowd. The other two points were even flashier, when he converted an up-and-under finger roll while drawing a foul.
“We realized that this could be our last time playing together and we are playing with a sense of urgency,” Okafor said. “We all want to win.”
Despite trailing by double figures for most of the game the Meteors did have a couple of highlights. The first was a partial block by Brandon Hutton on a Okafor dunk attempt in the second quarter. The other a putback dunk late in the fourth by 5-foot-11 Tyler Lewis (11 points). Martez Cameron and Karl Lewis also had 11 while Aaron Jones finished with 12 for the Meteors.
Already ahead 37-19 at halftime, the Dolphins (24-5) started the third period with a 12-0 run. Paul White (11 rebounds) had five of his 13 points during the run. Erwin Henry and Miles Reynolds each had 12 points.
De La Salle’s Paulius Zebalevicius had the difficult task of guarding the 6-11 Okafor. The 6-7 Zebalevicius tried to get physical early but the result was two fouls and a quick trip to the bench.
Okafor’s best play of the night, however, may have been when a few of his teammates went chest to chest with a few Meteors players. After Young coach Tyrone Slaughter pushed his players away from the Meteors players, Okafor gathered his teammates together to calm them down.
“It was a highly contested game, and each team knew that the loser was done for the season,” Slaughter said. “Okafor showed his leadership there.”