FORT WAYNE – North Side’s version of cruise control is plenty good enough.
The Redskins built a lead big enough in the third quarter that a letdown didn’t matter in an 88-79 road win over Homestead on Friday as the regular season came to a close.
Class 4A No. 4 North Side (21-1) won its 11th straight by outscoring Homestead (15-7) 31-16 in the third to blow the game open and enter the final quarter leading 70-51.
We created tempo and got out in transition and did some things we do and are good at, North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. In the first half, we played too much in the half court, rushed our shots and took too many 3s. We got more guys involved and more touches. When we do those things, that’s what makes us special. When we rely on one individual, that’s not who we are.
The Spartans outscored the Redskins 28-18 in the fourth, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Our defense in the third quarter was tremendous, and we just picked up the energy, North Side senior Mike Davis said. We just built up the lead, and that’s the type of lead we want. We just had a mental lapse (in the fourth), but we know going far in the tournament means we can’t do things like that.
Davis led the SAC champion Redskins with 30 points, and Sean McGee and Jeremy Jones added 16 and 13. Tre’Vion Crews had 13 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds.
The Spartans got a career-high 36 points from Caleb Swanigan, who also had 11 rebounds. Joe Ault added 14 points.
North Side held a 39-35 halftime advantage and a 19-6 run to open the third pushed the margin to 58-40. The Redskins’ high-water mark was 78-56 in the fourth. Homestead made a run to end the game, but the final margin of nine points was as close as the Spartans could get.
North Side did a great job in the second half and got us out of what we wanted to do, Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. In the first half, we moved the ball pretty well around the outside and was able to look inside. We were playing more to our pace. In the second half we got down 14, then all of the sudden everything was 1-on-1. We can’t compete with that.
They are the No. 4 team in the state for a reason. They are strong, physical and their guards are phenomenal. They have all the tools. For a half, we showed we can compete. Now it’s a matter of doing it for a full game.
Both teams open sectional play Tuesday. Homestead has the hosts at the Huntington North 4A Sectional at 7 p.m., while North Side will play Snider for the third time this year at 6 p.m. in the first game of the East Noble 4A Sectional.
This (win) gives us a lot of momentum heading into sectionals, Davis said. We play Snider, and it’s tough to beat a team three times in the same year, so we have to come out ready to play.