For three quarters of North Side's 70-55 victory over host Carroll on Friday night, the Redskins exhibited a variety of strengths that will make the team a tough out when the playoffs begin in under two weeks.
Three-point shooting? North Side hit 6-of-7 in the first quarter.
Offensive balance? Seven players scored five or more points, including four who finished in double figures.
Free throw shooting? The Redskins finished 14-of-16 from the line.
Defense? At one point in the third quarter, Carroll was shooting 14 percent (3-of-21) from the field.
But the focus in the postgame locker room for North Side was on the fourth quarter, an eight-minute stretch that saw the Chargers score 29 points, shoot 10-of-14 and halve the Redskins' 30-point second half lead.
“We resorted to being more of an AAU team in the fourth quarter,” North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. “We would bring (the ball) down, make one pass and shoot or no passes and shoot which is what we did at the beginning of the year. We thought, 'OK, we will just basket match because it ends up being more possessions for us.'
“That's not North Side basketball, not under me it's not.”
Despite the disappointment in the fourth quarter, Khaliq could not have been happier with how his team prior to that, particularly in the first half.
The Redskins (13-5) showed the brand of basketball that has led to an eight-game winning streak entering next Friday's season finale against Homestead, making the extra pass and finding the open man for wide-open threes or easy layups.
The defense was also impressive, holding Carroll sophomore Chandler White to just four points through three quarters.
Seven different players scored in the first half for North Side.
“When we pass and share the ball, it makes us hard to guard,” Khaliq said. “I have told (the team) all year that we are one to two extra passes every possession away from being a great team. We are a good team and when we go one-on-one like we did in the second half we are an average team.”
Junior Oosha Mitchell hit all seven of his shots from the field for North Side to finish with 14 points. Junior Trevion Crews (14 points), sophomore Sean McGee (12) and junior Jeremy Jones (10) added to the Redskins' balance.
Despite the impressive victory and long winning streak, Khaliq knows his team must play more consistent if it is to emerge from a Class 4A Sectional 5 that has five teams with over-.500 records and a Carroll (8-11) team that has the talent to play with anybody.
“You could have one tough opponent Tuesday or Wednesday (in sectionals), be on an emotional high and face another tough opponent Friday,” Khaliq said. “The question for us is can we bring that same energy and intensity as a non-senior laden team against a senior-laden team like Columbia City and Northrop who knows they are one-and-done?”
His players understand the message.
“The coaches have been getting on us about not being selfish,” Mitchell said. “We are scary when we are sharing the ball and teams don't know who to guard because we have so many scorers.”
NORTH SIDE 70, CARROLL 55
North Side 22 15 17 16-70
Carroll 7 6 13 29-55
North Side: Mitchell 14, McGee 12, Davis 7, Jeremy Jones 10, Richards 5, Nygel Jones 8, Crews 14.
Carroll: White 12, Thomas 2, Hammond 6, Mallers 19, Miller 11, Jeremy Kalonji 2, Jeffrey Kalonji 3.