FORT WAYNE – Mike Novell doesn’t seem like the type to put a lot of stock in karma, but there’s certainly a degree of it in his first win as coach of the South Side boys basketball program. The landmark win came against his former team, North Side, in the first round of the SAC tournament on Tuesday at Wayne.
The Archers had failed eight times to give Novell that first W but against a lot of his former players, his message to his new team appeared to sink in as No. 7 South Side upset No. 2 North Side 73-62.
It is tough being on the opposite side, said Novell, who talked with some of his former North Side players before the game. I got a whole bunch of new guys, and that’s my primary focus. I am a South guy now. We did not play it as old coach going against his old players. We played it as North-South rivalry, which is always so intense, and I said that’s all that matters here – our guys vs. their guys. We had a lot of those rivalries when I was on the other side, and I knew it was going to be intense so that’s how we played and prepared for.
After coaching the Redskins for nearly a decade, Novell’s teaching assignment within Fort Wayne Community Schools was switched from North to South, and he subsequently become the boys basketball coach. But South Side (1-8) had struggled grasping things under Novell, the Archers’ third coach in three years.
It took us about a month to get it together, said South Side senior Dustin Hall, who scored 21 points. We knew we had talent, and we knew we had the pieces. It took us awhile, longer than we expected, but we got it together now and hopefully we go forward. It was just a game, and it doesn’t matter who it was against, we would have fought that hard to get a win.
Rapheal Davis also scored 21 points for the Archers, who advanced to the tournament semifinals at 2:15 p.m. Thursday against either No. 3 Northrop or No. 6 Harding.
There are still a lot of rough things that we do or don’t do but as far as the energy goes, I tell them you can recover from mistakes if you have the hustle and desire and character, and that’s the things we have been working on, Novell said. And it paid off.
North Side (5-2) had 25 turnovers.
We came out extremely flat, North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said.
We came out like we are going to show up and we are going to win, and they came out ready to play.