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Curie's Demarcus Richardson drives for a layup and is fouled by Whitney Young's Paul White during a playoff game on 3/7/13 at Argo. | John Booz~for the Sun-Times Media
There was a future high-major college basketball star almost everywhere you looked on the court Thursday in Summit. Underneath the basket were two possible NBA lottery picks, Young’s Jahlil Okafor and Curie’s Cliff Alexander.
They were just the supporting cast, though. The game was decided by a kid that says no colleges at all are calling him. Young point guard Ausar Madison was brilliant throughout the game. He single-handedly orchestrated the No. 1 Dolphins’ come-from-behind 62-58 win over No. 12 Curie in the Class 4A sectional semifinal at Argo.
Young trailed by eight at the half. Madison dished five assists, all of them understated and efficient, in a 16-4 third-quarter run that put the Dolphins (27-3) ahead 39-37.
“I was definitely feeling it,” said Madison, who finished with nine assists. “I felt like I had to get my team back on our feet. I had to spark the team, and I do it with the pass.”
Junior LJ Peak was the beneficiary of three of those assists and finished with a game-high 23 points.
The game was billed as a matchup of two high-level big men, and they pretty much canceled each other out.
“Cliff is a great player and it’s so rare to play against another great big man,” Okafor said. “You don’t find a lot of great bigs to play against.”
Okafor finished with 13 points and three rebounds. He missed a good stretch of the second half with foul trouble. Alexander scored 14 and grabbed eight rebounds.
“A lot of times that will happen, with two big men taking each other out of the game,” Madison said. “I thought it would become a guard-focused game. They were afraid to help off each other, so that opened up lanes for me and LJ and Paul [White].”
White finished with 11 points and Miles Reynolds chipped in nine points and eight rebounds. He drained four crucial free throws in the final minute of the game.
Curie (19-8) led 46-43 with 6:07 to play, but Young used a 10-2 run to retake the lead. Madison scored a basket in the run and assisted on two others. That was the only shot he took in the game. The 5-10 point guard may be the most reluctant shooter in the area.
“I take a lot of crap for that,” Madison said. “But everywhere I look there is a Division I player around me, including the best player in the country. My job is to get them the shots.”