BOYS SAC TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS: North Side comes back against Homestead, advances to fifth straight title game to face rival South Side

North Side senior Austin Boucher brings the ball up the court against the defense of Homestead's Onye Ezeakudo during Friday's semifinal game at Wayne. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
North Side's Lucas Kroft defends Homestead's Sam Buck in the second half Friday. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
North Side boys basketball coach Shabaz Khaliq talks to his team during a timeout of Friday's semifinal game against Homestead. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Homestead's Onye Ezeakudo controls the ball against the defense of North Side's Nate Carbaugh on Friday night. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Homestead's Zak Krueger looks for an open teammate in the first half of Friday's semifinal against North Side. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Homestead's Onye Ezeakudo gets a shot up over the outstretched defense of North Side's Keion Brooks Jr. on Friday night. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
South Side senior Trejean Didier guards Wayne's Anthony Phillips during Friday's semifinal game. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Dillon Redding of Wayne makes a pass Friday. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
South Side's Mikale Stevenson brings the ball up the court against the press of Wayne on Friday night. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Wayne's Kylon Jarreau brings the ball up the court against the defense of South Side's Demarque Perkins on Friday night. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)

North Side needed almost all 32 to minutes to find their comfort zone, but when they did, they shined as Keion Brooks Jr. and Austin Boucher each scored 22 points in a 66-58 win over Homestead. The victory, in a rematch of last year’s title game, sends the Legends to their fifth straight SAC Holiday Tournament final. Brooks added 10 rebounds and Brandan Johnson had 13 points.

The Spartans did a good job in the opening half of controlling the pace and putting out long possessions, many of which ended in open threes with both Grant Raber and Jake Archbold stepping up and draining shots, forcing the composure of the North Side defense to waver. The game was tied going into the midway break at 24 each after Raber drilled a three from the corner in front of the North Side bench in the closing moments.

Coach Shabaz Khaliq of North Side showed that his halftime adjustment game is strong however as the Legends came out attacking in the second half with Boucher continuing to be a catalyst from a first half where he was North Side’s only consistent source of offense.

“We wanted to speed the tempo up a little bit, play at a faster pace, which I think we did in the second half,” Khaliq said. “We did a much better job of making two or three extra passes to get better looks and started making some shots ourselves.”

“Our main gameplan coming in was to make the extra pass because we knew they were slower than us so when they would rotate, we’d either have wide open layups or wide open threes. So it opened up a lot more in the second half. That was the key in the second half, that and rebounding,” Boucher added.

The Legends trailed by as many as five in the second half before Brooks Jr. came alive, challenging Homestead’s Trevin Taylor at rim and making big plays, including a couple of and-one opportunities.

North Side joins both Northrop (1983-1987) and Bishop Luers (2007-2010) as teams who have advanced to five straight finals. Only Northrop has won four titles in that span, winning from 1983-1985 and again in 1987.

“I watched every single game last year on Summit City Sports and I was really missing it last year. I was glad I could come in and get a good game in this year,” Boucher said.

Homestead was led by Raber’s 16 points and Onye Ezeakudo added 15 while Archbold scored 13.

Homestead falls to 4-5 on the year and is now 0-5 when giving up 55 or more points in a game.

SOUTH SIDE 62, WAYNE 57: Mikale Stevenson scored 16 and Demarque Perkins added 11 points and nine as the Archers advanced to play crosstown rival North Side in Saturday’s title game.

“It shows that we have grown a lot as a team,” South Side senior Trejean Didier said after the game. “Last year, games like this we probably would have lost, some due to inexperience. This year, we are showing people that we have come a long way and hopefully we redeem ourselves tomorrow night.”

South Side brought the on ball pressure in the first half with Perkins and Didier turning up the intensity and forcing Wayne mistakes. The Archers pushed the lead to as many as six at 26-20 midway through the second quarter.

Wayne pushed back before the half with Darien Causey getting to the basket to tie the game at 26, followed by a Michael Redding putback to give the Generals the lead back.

At the half, the game was tied at 28.

Midway through the third quarter, Stevenson took back over, picking up from where he left off on Thursday. He hit back-to-back-to-back three pointers giving South a nine point edge, 41-32 lead with 3:40 to play. Stevenson hit four triples in the third quarter.

Kylon Jarreau fought back, starting to match Stevenson with three pointers, keeping the South lead from getting bigger than 11. The Generals got back to within three, but trailed 48-43 heading into the final quarter.

With 4:32 remaining in a tie game, Stevenson found Asher Blum cutting to the basket and the senior big man put in the layup and then converted the and-one free throw on the Anthony Phillips foul, sending South Side up 55-52.

Wayne was able to grab the lead back briefly, but South took advantages down the stretch of Wayne mistakes and closed the game out at the free throw line.

South Side advances to their first tournament final since 2004, when they beat Bishop Dwenger for the title. The Archers and Legends have played in four finals all-time, with each team taking a pair of wins. Earlier this season, North Side beat South 76-52 on the Archers home court. Didier believes the Archers learned a lot from that game.

“I learned don’t get too caught up in all of the extra stuff outside of the game, stay focused and be ready to play just like it is any other game,” Didier said. “Don’t treat it like it is different than any other game because you will play different than you usually do.”

Shaquan Sanders scored 13 points for Wayne and Jarreau added 10, hitting five threes. Craig Young finished with eight points and nine rebounds for the Generals.

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