KENDALLVILLE – North Side earned its status as one of the best teams in Class 4A with a deep, veteran team that can score quickly and often.
But the Redskins earned their first victory of the tournament with their defense.
North Side, looking for its first sectional win in three years and first title since 2010, took the first step Tuesday night by defeating Snider 58-46 in the opening game of the Class 4A East Noble Sectional.
The Redskins will face host East Noble at 6 p.m. Friday in the first semifinal, followed by the game between Carroll and Northrop. The Bruins advanced to semifinals with a 41-24 victory over DeKalb on Tuesday.
In improving to 22-1, the Redskins were forced to play at a slower pace than they’re accustomed; it was only the sixth time all year they scored less than 60 points. But they used a 9-0 burst midway through the final quarter to finally put away the Panthers and earn their 12th straight victory.
We knew when we came into this game they were going to try to slow it down and make us get off our game, North Side senior Mike Davis said. But we just persevered and picked up the tempo and got the lead we wanted.
As it did in a 54-51 loss to the Redskins in the finals of the SAC tournament in December, Snider was able to limit North’s transition game by working on offense.
We had the tempo exactly what we wanted the whole game, said Snider coach John Todor, whose team finished 14-8. We told the kids if we keep the score in the 50s we can win it. At the same token we also had to execute on offense and we didn’t get it done. We had some costly turnovers at some key times. We just needed to do a better job executing on offense. But hats off to North Side, they made some great defensive plays.
Those plays mostly came late seemingly within seconds when a two-point game turned into a double-digit cushion.
Junior Devlyn Williams helped Snider nearly erase an 11-point deficit, scoring 12 of his team-high 14 points in the second half. His basket with 5:51 to play pulled the Panthers within 39-37. Redskins senior Jeremy Jones answered with a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 42-37, and then Snider freshman Malik Williams made it 42-39 with a basket inside with 5:02 to go.
The Redskins’ quick-strike offense then struck. Sean McGee hit a baseline jumper, Myluv Sutton scored in the post and then hit a 3-pointer, and Jones scored on a fast break to open a 51-39 lead with just 2:20 remaining. Like that, the Redskins advanced.
I’m glad that we were able to grind this one out and showcase that we can win a tough game and we don’t always have to rely on transition opportunities to score, North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. We can grind some things out. It showcases our depth a little bit.
Tre’Vion Crews finished with 14 points to lead six North Side players who scored at least seven points. McGee added 12.
Leander Williams added 11 points for the Panthers.