Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette North Side's Keion Brooks Jr. dunks against South Side's Demarque Perkins during the second quarter of the SAC tourney championship game Saturday. Brooks scored 25 points for the champion Legends.
Sunday, December 31, 2017 1:00 am
North rolls to 5th straight
Legends control boards in 2nd half to put away Archers
AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette
To share in the feeling of winning a Parkview Sports Medicine SAC Holiday Tournament Championship is a special thing for the North Side boys basketball team.
The Legends defeated South Side 90-62 on Saturday at Wayne to win their fifth straight and ninth overall.
“I think when you hear some of our guys talk, I heard Austin Boucher the other day, he talked about what it meant for the guys that came before him,” North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. “It's buying into the tradition that we've established at North about what it's about and keeping that legacy going. They didn't want to let those guys down. They didn't want to be the team that didn't win a championship. That was an important message they had for each other.
“They wanted to see Brandan Johnson leave as a four-year starter, undefeated in the holiday tournament, that was another motivation. I think the biggest thing is coming together and continuing to grow collectively.”
Everyone's motivations for wanting the championship differed, but all shared a common theme.
“We don't want to focus on my fourth straight or the fifth straight for the team, we want to focus on getting (the new guys) their first,” Johnson said. “It feels good. Austin (Boucher) started feeling it in the second half, and I was happy to see that, happy to see him get his.”
The Archers (6-3) took a 13-7 lead midway through the first quarter, but North responded with a 16-2 run to lead 23-25 with 6:10 left in the first half.
North Side (10-3) led 36-27 at halftime and opened the second half with a 13-6 run to lead 49-35 with 4:30 left.
“We really crashed the defensive boards, we allowed nine (offensive rebounds) in the first quarter and we allowed zero in the second half,” Boucher said. “Once we realized they were getting most of their points on second-chance shots, we cut that off, we started running and got our offensive rebounds and the game blew open after that.”
After seven straight points to open the third quarter, the Legends held a 67-47 advantage with 6:35 left in the game.
“It took a lot of paying attention to detail (to beat South Side),” Keion Brooks Jr. said. “They jumped out early on us with 3s. I feel like, me personally, I didn't come out ready to play to start the game, so I had to get my energy. After that, we got rolling.
“(Coach) told us to keep playing hard. It was our mistakes, not really anything they were doing. It was our mistakes that kept them in the game. We came out in the second half, tried to cut down our turnovers, our little mistakes and we were able to stretch out the game.”
Boucher led the Legends with 27 points, Brooks added 25, Lucas Kroft scored 17 and Johnson 12.
Courtney Shorter scored 21 for the Archers and Mikale Stevenson added 19.
The SAC tournament championship is only a steppingstone for North Side, and with two months left in the regular season, it's back to the grind.
“I think it's a stepping stone. We write our goals in the board in the locker room and that's our first goal,” Johnson said.
“We dropped a few games and, of course, every team wants to go undefeated, but we can't and that's our first goal. To check that off is going to feel good.
“We had a lot of figuring out to do, and we still have a lot of figuring out to do. I think those losses helped us get there a little bit quicker.”