FORT WAYNE – The man’s threads were straight out of Erudition Quarterly – pink shirt, pink bow tie, white sweater vest – but there was nothing particularly doctoral about Friday night for Shabaz Khaliq and his North Side Redskins. It was, in fact, quite elementary.
A little Myluv Sutton off the bench to get them through the first half. A deluge of 3-pointers in the second to seal the deal.
In the end it added up to a 75-54 cruise past the Wayne Generals for North, which went to 12-1 overall and 3-0 in the SAC with the win. And it all hinged on a 6-foot-5 senior reserve and eight 3-pointers in the second half, when North turned a nine-point halftime lead into a certified runaway.
Sutton came in to spell Oosha Mitchell after Mitchell picked up two quick fouls early on and didn’t leave until he’d scored a team-high 18 points. That was complemented by 14 for Mike Davis and 13 apiece for Jeremy Jones and Sean McGee, who combined for seven of North’s eight second-half triples.
(Sutton) is a kid we know we can go to and rely on when he’s focused, Khaliq said. He knocked down his first shot, and that’s big for him. Usually when he does that he gives us good minutes.
We needed him up in Richmond we were up at the Bob Wettig tournament. He played big minutes up there, and I think he’s feeling more comfortable with his role and knowing his number’s going to be called and we need him to produce and not just spell people.
He certainly produced in the first half, scoring 16 of his total as pretty much the only player on either team who could throw it in the ocean. Wayne (5-3, 1-2) made just 9 of 33 shots in the first half; North Side was 12 of 29, and 6 of 20 aside from Sutton.
North led 32-23 after all that, getting separation with a 12-3 run across a span of 2:40 that began with 3:45 to play in the first half. That took North from an 18-17 lead to a 30-20 advantage on Sutton’s tip-in of a Davis miss with 1:05 showing.
I just knew I had to come in and give us a little spark, Sutton said.
And after he did, the rain of 3s began.
Four in the first three-plus minutes – two apiece for Jones and McGee – pumped the lead to 45-30 midway through the third. North opened the final quarter with a 10-2 run fueled by 3s from Davis and Jones to jump the lead to 62-42, ending the suspense.
We’re a pretty good shooting team, Sutton said. Shots were just coming, so we just kept filling them up.
It wasn’t quite that simple, but almost.
I think it was just a matter of the second and third pass, Khaliq said. In the first half we were taking them a little too early, adrenaline-type stuff. But the second half, we had ball movement, guys were open, stepping into their shots, hands ready, knees bent – you know, the simple basic stuff. And we made shots.