FORT WAYNE – North Side held up its end of the deal, even if holding it up required a couple of jerry rigs on occasion. But you know what?
Now it can hold up the SAC championship trophy, too.
Friday night at Bishop Dwenger, the Redskins feasted for a while and then starved for a while and then, in the end, found just enough sustenance to put away the Saints 72-65. And then the news got better.
Across town, Concordia edged Northrop 59-58. And that made North Side (10-5, 5-2) the SAC champs.
It wasn’t easy. But then, North coach Shabaz Khaliq pointed out, maybe it’s not supposed to be.
Anytime you’re trying to compete for a title, at any point in time, no game is going to be easy, he said after North squandered an early 12-point lead, fell behind in the third quarter and rallied in the fourth for the win.
Dwenger’s kids played hard. That’s what they’re going to do. But I think the one thing we’ve got that we haven’t always had this year is we’ve got seniors that don’t want to lose.
Those kids are stepping up and playing like seniors should because they don’t want to lose. And that’s important.
It looked like North Side via cruise control after it scored the last 13 points of the first quarter and went up 26-13 early in the second.
But Dwenger (1-6, 1-12), which made 15 of 29 shots across the middle two quarters, shifted out of a zone into a man-to-man defense and began to drop a shot here and there. And North Side began trying to win it on one possession a bit too much. And the Saints chipped away.
They scored 11 of the last 15 points of the half to close to within five at the break, then scored the first six of the third quarter. And when Ryan Watercutter followed his own miss at the 6:13 mark, Dwenger had regained the lead at 37-36 with a 17-4 run.
Yeah, I feel we get too comfortable sometimes, said senior Dwight Richards, who scored North Side’s first eight points and led four Redskins in double figures with 20. We get a big lead and it’s like, Oh, we missed a shot,’ or Oh, they made a big shot. It’s OK, we’ll get it back.’
We’ve got to have the mentality to keep the foot on the pedal and just keep going keep going forward.
This time around, that happened with 6:45 to play and the score tied at 50.
Nygel Jones’ three-pointer at the 6:22 mark gave the Redskins a 53-50 lead, and on North Side’s next possession Trevion Crews drove for a layup and a free throw to make it 56-50. That kicked off a surge that eventually pushed the lead to 72-60 with 2:39 to play, and Dwenger never got closer than seven again.
We knew what we were playing for tonight, Richards said.
Fourth quarter was like, Hey, it’s now or never, man. We’re going to win it or we’re going to lose it. It’s in our hands so we’ve got to play hard.’