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The Journal Gazette

Friday, February 10, 2017 7:50 pm

No. 1 Legends roll to 14th straight win

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

Speed, size and athleticism are paramount tools for the North Side boys basketball team.

On Friday night at By Hey Arena, the Legends showed in an 84-52 blowout of Bishop Dwenger they can shoot, too.

“The best we have shot the ball collectively all season,” North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. “And that’s a credit to our guys; hopefully we carry it into the postseason as the season here goes along.”

The Legends (20-1, 7-1 SAC) already have the state’s attention, surging to the No. 1 ranking in the Class 4A poll, and won their 14th straight game.

But when 6-foot-2 senior guard Juan Quarles is as hot as he was against the Saints, with most of his 26 points coming on jump shots, North Side gets an added offensive dimension.

“When he’s knocking down 3s, that spreads the floor more and helps me get to the basket so when Jaylen (Butz) is back we have more room to operate on the low block,” said forward Keion Brooks, who had 21 points.

Butz, the 6-11 senior center bound for DePaul, didn’t play against the visiting Saints (8-9, 2-6).

Seeing his team fall behind 12-5, Bishop Dwenger coach Matt Kostoff used a timeout at 2:34 left in the first quarter. It only grew lopsided thereafter.

North Side led 17-7 after the first quarter, 34-18 at the half and 59-34 after the third quarter, the quarter that Quarles did his best work, including back-to-back 3s to go ahead 42-20.

“Juan was unconscious,” Brooks said. “He was very hot. I was trying to get the ball to him every chance that I could.”

After a pregame ceremony to honor the seniors, Quarles, Davontae Kinnie (12 points), Elijah Holmes (three) and Malek Martin (two) all had a hand in the domination.

“(The seniors) have meant the world to me as a coach,” Khaliq said. “These guys have done it together. We have gone from being a group of kids that go to the same high school to being a bunch of guys that love and care about one another. That says a lot about our program and what we want at North Side.”

They also want quality play and got it on Friday night, with defenders smothering Bishop Dwenger’s outside shooters.

“We didn’t want to give them any open looks from the perimeter,” Khaliq said. “They shoot the ball extremely well, and we wanted to make sure every shot was contested and that they had to put the ball on the floor and go to the basket where the help side would be.”

Seniors Conlan Martin (20 points) and Campbell Donovan (18) put up numbers but, other than that starting backcourt, no Saint scored more than four.

The Legends still have two regular season games left to see if they can sustain their shooting and defense in peak forms.

“I feel like we’re on a roll,” Brooks said. “We’re starting to get things figured out, what we want to do on the court, and we want to stay on a roll and just be able to take a head of steam into the postseason.”

cgoff@jg.net