Fran Ruchalski | For The Journal Gazette North Side's Brandan Johnson battles to get a shot off between Carmel junior John Michael Mulloy, left, and Cole Jenkins on Saturday in Logansport.
Fran Ruchalski |For The Journal Gazette Homestead’s Jake Archbold puts up an inside shot Saturday in Logansport.
Sunday, March 11, 2018 1:00 am
Legends' quest for finals return comes up short
MARK SCHUTTE | For The Journal Gazette
LOGANSPORT – North Side's goal to make a second straight trip to the Class 4A state championship game ended Saturday night, two games short. And three first-half fouls that made the task even tougher.
With junior Keion Brooks hamstrung with three fouls 12 minutes into the game and the rest of his teammates struggling alongside, the Legends climbed uphill all night in a 54-42 loss to Carmel in the championship game of the Logansport Regional.
It was on the same Berry Bowl court a year ago that North Side rallied for a 52-49 overtime win over the Greyhounds as part of a tournament run that didn't end until a 55-52 loss to Ben Davis in the state finals.
A year later, the Legends (21-6) never really had a chance to repeat.
Brooks, who had 14 points in a 55-51 win over Zionsville in the semifinals Saturday morning, hit two 3-pointers in the first period, the second of which put North Side up 12-9.
But on the ensuing possession, Brooks picked up his second foul against Carmel's 6-foot-10 center John Michael Mulloy.
The Greyhounds (20-7), which defeated Homestead 46-41 in the second game Saturday, closed the period with an 8-0 run and never trailed again.
The task became even more daunting with 3:58 to play in the first half when Brooks fouled Eddie Gill for a three-point play, a 22-16 lead and most notably Brooks' third foul. By halftime, Carmel led 29-20.
“I feel like it was tough trying to battle down in the post with John Michael,” Brooks said. “I felt like I couldn't be as physical as I wanted trying to push him off the spot, but that's how the game was being called.
“The third one was a stupid one, I probably shouldn't have contested that. But I feel like my first two were just playing in the heat of battle.”
North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq was more succinct in his criticism of the way the game was called.
“I thought we were right there and then Keion picks up his third and it changed the game plan for us,” Khaliq said. “It's disappointing to watch Keion be treated in a manner that I just don't feel is fair. He's not allowed to move. He gets held a lot. He gets bumped a lot; he gets knocked off his spot a lot and he's forced to play through it, and that's tough.
“Then you get him that's fighting, forcing teams to do the same thing and he gets called for a couple tick-tack fouls, so that was hard for me to swallow for him. Now it's the biggest game of the season and he's not able to be out there competing with his teammates. I'm disappointed for him more than anything.”
North Side went more than four minutes before scoring in the third quarter, by which time the Greyhounds were up 34-20.
Brooks finished with 20 points and scored nine points in the fourth quarter, getting the Legends as close as 51-41. But Carmel hit 10-of-12 free throws in the final minutes to keep it from getting any closer.
North Side hit just 12-of-38 from the field and 2-of-17 from 3-point range. Senior Brandan Johnson, a four-year starter who Khaliq called the hardest worker he's ever had, finished with nine, while senior Austin Boucher finished with eight.
In North Side's win over Zionsville, Brooks finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots and got 13 each from Johnson and Lucas Kroft.
The game featured 11 lead changes and was tied nine times. Brooks broke the tie for good with a slam and three-point play that gave North a 50-47 lead with 1:36 to play.
The second game came down to making plays in the final minute, but Carmel was the one who made them against Homestead, ending the Spartans' season at 18-8.
Homestead struggled all day, shooting 35 percent from the field, but was tied 34-34 with 4:55 to play after Jake Archbold scored his only points of the game.
“It was awesome from our second half standpoint that our kids came out and kept fighting,” Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. “We were struggling on the offensive end but give credit to them, they really locked us down on the defensive end.
“When we got it to 34-all I thought some good things were going to happen. But give credit to them, they made plays when they needed to and the ball didn't bounce our way.”
On Carmel's next possession, Gill scored to make it 36-34 and the Greyhounds never trailed again.
Freshman Luke Goode, with four 3-pointers, led the Spartans with 13, while Ezeakudo finished with nine. Jalen Whack led Carmel with 12 points off the bench.