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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 12, 2017 6:08 am

Legends, Knights advance

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

LOGANSPORT – North Side boys basketball coach Shabaz Khaliq heard people say the Class 4A Logansport Regional was a "regional of death."

"We survived," Khaliq said. "That’s the word. Survive. We made just enough plays to get by."

A 52-49 overtime win over sixth-ranked Carmel on Saturday night at the Berry Bowl offered no other choice.

"He (Khaliq) always mentions not to play with emotion but with poise," said Legends forward Keion Brooks, who had 13 points and five rebounds. "Emotion will run out. Poise will last you the whole game."

Never rattled, never unfocused, fourth-ranked North Side (26-2) advances to face Merrillville in semistate play Saturday. The regional championship is the 13th in program history and second under Khaliq’s leadership.

After the Greyhounds (22-5) knotted the score at 42 on a pair of free throws by Sterling Brown with 59.4 seconds left in regulation, the Legends worked the clock all the way down, but Davontae Kinnie’s driving bank shot fell off the rim as the buzzer sounded.

North Side, which had taken a 42-40 lead on Brooks’ 3-pointer with 3:37 to play in regulation, could have been demoralized.

Instead, the Legends clamped down on defense in the extra session, and Juan Quarles (15 points, five rebounds) got into the lane to provide a 46-42 lead in the final minute. Carmel responded with two free throws by Jalen Whack with 25.4 seconds left.

And then it happened, the one play that finally allowed rowdy North Side fans to start to feel the coming celebration. Brooks blew down the lane and stuffed the ball through the goal with both hands. Just like that, Legends 48, Greyhounds 44, and only 16 seconds left.

"I had a clear lane," Brooks said. "I thought they were going to foul me, and they didn’t, so I just turned and was able to finish the dunk."

Quarles drained two free throws with 8.8 seconds remaining for a 50-46 edge. Carmel’s meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer capped the scoring in a tense, physical affair that featured 10 ties and 17 lead changes.

Jaylen Butz, whose 14 points and eight rebounds were critical to a North Side attack that shot just 37 percent, heard skeptics last week.

"We were doubted," Butz said. "It’s going to be a long ride. Shabaz is preaching we’re on a journey."

Earlier in the day, North Side rolled to a 57-38 win over Homestead. Butz racked up 15 points and 17 rebounds, Quarles had 13 points, Kinnie had 12 points and five rebounds, and Brooks chipped in seven points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Homestead, which got 16 points and eight rebounds from Brandon Durnell, trailed 29-15 at halftime, fell behind by 21 in the third quarter and finished shooting just 29 percent to the Legends’ 43 percent.

"Obviously, we didn’t play well as a team," said Spartans star Jack Ferguson, held to four points on 1-of-7 shooting. "Our shots weren’t falling, and they played a really good game."

The 11th-ranked Spartans end the season 23-4 after making their fourth straight regional appearance.

"I’ll think about the friendships we made," Ferguson said. "We were all one. We had a really good season: 23-4 is definitely nothing to be sad about."

cgoff@jg.net