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The Journal Gazette

Friday, December 08, 2017 11:20 pm

North Side 76, South Side 52

North Side boys use early momentum to roll past South Side

JOSH PATTERSON | For The Journal Gazette

Seeing the rival green and white of South Side on the hosts’ jerseys, Alijah Long did his part to help North Side quiet the home faithful early.

The senior helped the Legends seize control from the outset, draining three first-quarter 3-pointers as Class 4A No. 4 North Side ran past the Archers  76-52 on Friday.

“I was really just taking what they gave to me,” said Long, who finished with 16 points. “We came in with a mindset that we’re the best in the city, and I feel like we showed it tonight.”

And what Long provided early, pushing the Legends to a 22-7 lead after eight minutes, junior Keion Brooks showed late. The 6-foot-9 forward matched his season average with a game-high 24 points. That included 17 in the second half, as North Side (4-1, 1-0 SAC) outscored South Side (2-1, 0-1) by 15 after halftime.

With Brooks and Long leading the way, all five Legends starters finished in double figures, as former South Side player Austin Boucher added 12 points, while Lucas Kroft and Brandan Johnson each finished with 10.

“It’s been a point of emphasis,” North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said of the balanced scoring. “When we share the ball, I feel like we’re difficult to guard. I thought we did a much better job of taking care of the ball. That’s a move in the right direction, and scoring is a result of that.

“If we continue to do that, I think it’ll make us even more difficult to defend on offense. We square up some things on defense, and I think we’ll be headed into the direction we want to be.”

Not that Khaliq could complain about the Legends’ defense Friday night, in particular how Johnson kept Trejean Didier, the leading scorer for South Side (2-1, 0-1), in check.

Didier, who was held 10 points below his average with five points, didn’t score until making a pair of free throws with 5:30 left in the fourth.

“This is a work in progress from our team,” Archers coach J.J. Foster Sr. said. “This early in the (season), what these guys are learning, when you step up and people respect you, they’re going to play you hard.

“The shots aren’t going to be there off one pass. You have to work a little bit. Set some screens, come off some screens. Those are things we’re going to work on.”

Knowing that a matchup with Mr. Basketball favorite Romeo Langford and 4A’s top-ranked team, New Albany, was looming tonight at the Southport Fieldhouse, Khaliq stressed the importance of building momentum – particularly by starting off the SAC schedule with a victory over rival South Side.

“You try to carry momentum over,” Khaliq said. “Our guys have to understand that the environment that we saw tonight may be similar tomorrow, it may not be, but our energy and effort has to stay the same regardless. We have to have a championship pedigree that states that no matter who we play, we’re going to be ready to play, regardless of the opponent.”