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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, December 30, 2017 11:20 pm

High 5: North Side wins SAC Tournament

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 its 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," four-year starter Brandan 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 with 3:41 left in the first quarter but the Legends responded with a 16-2 run between the end of the first and start of the second to take a 23-15 lead with 6:10 left in the first half.

North Side (10-3) led 36-27 at halftime and came out with greater intensity in the second half, opening with a 13-6 run to go up 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.

An SAC Tournament win is only a stepping stone for North Side and with two months left in the regular season, it's back to the grind next week.

"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."

areichel@jg.net