The only difference Friday was the historic nature of the win.
The Redskins' 109-72 victory gave the tradition-rich program its first back-to-back league championships since 1978 and 1979.
North Side also became the first to win both the SAC Holiday Tournament and regular season championship since the 1996-97 school year (South Side).
It is also the first time a public school in the SAC has won the league championships in both football and basketball in the same school year since 2004-05 (Snider).
More importantly for this year's squad, it was arguably the best four quarters of basketball the Class 4A No. 5 Redskins have played all year, with the senior-laden team rising to the occasion in a key game.
North Side clinched its ninth SAC title with one conference game remaining. Snider and Wayne have 4-2 records with no shot at catching the Redskins, who have won their six league games by an average of 17 points per game.
“I asked the question after tonight, 'Are we back? Or was this an aberration because you had something to play for?” North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. “I hope this is our preparation for postseason play … because I really thought our intensity was good, they were ready to go from the jump, they really shared the ball and they listened to what we had to say.”
The Redskins (16-1, 6-0 SAC) dominated in every facet of the game, taking a 20-point lead by the end of the first quarter. Bishop Luers was willing to run up-tempo with North Side, something it was unable to do effectively with the difference in talent.
The Redskins hit 22-of-38 shots in the first half to go up 28 by halftime. Five players finished in double figures for North Side, led by Tre'Vion Crews' 27 points.
Tyrell Johnson had a team-high 27 points for the Knights while J.J. Foster added 17 despite sitting out the first quarter.
“Coach Baz gets on us every day about just playing hard and playing defense every day,” Crews said. “We wanted to jump on them early so they would lay down to us early and we could coast the rest of the game. That's what we did.”
Instead of coasting in the second half, North Side put on an offensive show by throwing down dunk after dunk in transition. The more the Knights (8-4, 3-3) pressed, the more the Redskins were able to convert turnovers into fast-break buckets.
The victory means more for a team that could have strayed from its principles with such a talent-laden roster.
“(The team) didn't relish in the fact that they won it last year,” Khaliq said. “I tried to remind them that we are not defending a championship, we are pursuing one. Our guys bought into that philosophy and bought into the things we want to accomplish this year.”