North Side has beaten Snider already twice this season with a third matchup coming in the first round of the East Noble Class 4A boys basketball sectional March 4 as announced by the IHSAA on Sunday. But if the second game is any indication, the season sweep will not come easy – if at all.
The 4A No. 4 Redskins (20-1) beat the No. 17 Panthers (14-6) 68-46 on Dec. 13 but had to get a last-second 3-pointer by Oosha Mitchell to win the second matchup 54-51 in the finals of the SAC tournament Dec. 28.
Its going to be a tall task for us because obviously playing them twice and having success both times they are going to be fired up for us, North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. Definitely the way the game went from the first contest to the second contest is going to give them confidence, so its going to be a tough first-round matchup.
It obviously wasnt an entirely new Panthers team the second time. They just played nothing like they did in the first game.
The first game we were really mechanical on offense because we were still learning a new offensive system, Snider coach John Todor said. We were more ready about being in our spots than looking to score. The second time was in the SAC tourney, and that was like a sectional atmosphere. We were really up for that. We are going to have to get after it. It doesnt matter who we play, we are just going to have to do the things we have worked on all year.
Khaliq said he noticed the difference in the Panthers immediately.
The biggest thing was their guys seemed to come out with a lot more energy at the start of the game and came out a lot more aggressive than they did the first time, Khaliq said. They jumped on us early the second time, and we were able to lock it up in the fourth quarter, and thats what helped us in that game.
The biggest question mark will be the health of the hero of the second game as Mitchell has been battling a bruised ankle recently. His playing time was limited in a 104-49 win over Indianapolis Broad Ripple on Saturday, and Khaliq is not sure he will even play Friday at Homestead.
He didnt play a lot, but that was by design, Khaliq said. He seemed to be OK, and we hope with a little more rest he will be 100 percent within the next week or so.
In other area matchups featuring ranked teams, Class 3A No. 6 New Haven got a first-round bye and will play the winner of Garrett and Concordia in the sectional semifinals and New Haven, Class 2A No. 14 Woodlan opens up against Eastside at South Adams, and Class 1A No. 11 Blackhawk Christian plays Howe in a sectional opener at Hamilton.