North Side wins fifth straight SAC Holiday Tournament title with 90-62 win over South Side

The 2017 SAC Holiday Tournament champion North Side Legends. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Austin Boucher looks to find a spot in the South Side defense during Saturday night's SAC Holiday Tournament title game. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
South Side boys basketball coach J.J. Foster talks to his team during a timeout on Saturday night. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
South Side's JT Langston (5) guards North Side's Keion Brooks Jr. in the first half of Saturday's SAC Holiday Tournament final game. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
South Side's Mikale Stevenson looks for an opening in the North Side defense on Saturday night. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
North Side basketball players hold up their hands with the number five to indicate their fifth straight SAC Holiday Tournament title. No other school has ever won more than three in a row. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
North Side assistant coach Demitrius Jackson dances in the middle of a circle of Legend players Saturday night after they beat South Side for the SAC Holiday Tournament title. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
North Side junior Lucas Kroft cuts down a piece of net after the Legends beat South Side for the SAC Holiday Tournament title on Saturday night. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
North Side junior Keion Brooks Jr. cuts down a piece of net following Saturday's SAC Holiday Tournament finals win over South Side. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)

Austin Boucher scored 27 points with eight rebounds and four assists and Keion Brooks Jr. put up 25 points with 11 rebounds as North Side topped South Side 90-62 on Saturday night at Wayne High School to win their fifth straight SAC Holiday Tournament title.

This win comes three weeks after the Legends beat South Side 76-52 in the regular season.

“It doesn’t matter who you play, you have to have a championship level effort. It doesn’t matter if you have played them before, beat them before or lost to them before, you still have to come with a mentality that it takes to win and be a champion,” North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said.

Cortney Shorter scored South’s first nine points of the game on three triples after being quiet the entire tournament, helping the Archers jet out to an early lead, but North Side’s Brandan Johnson followed his own shot in the closing minutes of the first quarter to even the score back up 15. North Side hadn’t led since 2-0 until Brooks scored inside 20 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Legends extended their lead to eight in the second quarter when three Archers swarmed Johnson’s attempt at the basket, allowing Brooks to slam home the wide open putback with 5:53 to play in the half.

The teams traded shots the rest of the quarter with North taking a 36-29 lead into the halftime break.

“We have to find whoever is hot, just happened to be me tonight at times and Keion did his thing, he’s pretty darn good” said Boucher, who hit seven three pointers in the win. “Whoever is hot, be it me, Kroft, BJ; we have to find that hot hand and get it to them early.”

North Side extended their lead to 14 in the third when Johnson followed up a Lucas Kroft miss with 4:31 to play.

“Every team comes out different every night and the crowd is big, it’s a great environment,” Johnson said. “We talk about staying poised and not feeding into the energy. They game plan for certain people, but you can’t game plan for everybody. When there are four of us scoring in double digits, it’s hard to stop.”

With 6:37 to play in the final quarter, Boucher drained back to back threes from the corner opposite of the Legend bench to extend the Legends lead to 21 at 70-49 and they pulled away from there.

Lucas Kroft and Johnson both joined Boucher and Brooks in double digits scoring with 15 and 14 points respectively. North Side finished 15-of-15 from the foul line.

After the win, some of the Legends looked back at the legacy the team has built. Just the third team to ever make five straight tournament finals, North has won those five straight while no other team has ever won more than three titles in a row. North Side won on back-to-back buzzer beaters over Snider in 2013 and 2014 before beating the newest conference members Carroll and Homestead the last two seasons.

“I like the approach that Austin had, as a new kid, to say that ‘we’ve got to win this for everybody else that came before us because we don’t want to be the ones that don’t get it done’,” said Khaliq. “That says alot about the program and the tradition and history and buying into what we are about.”

“I talked to Jaylen Butz before the game, he told me to carry on the tradition,” Brooks Jr. noted. “He told me he would be watching live and to not let anyone else go out and win this tournament.”

Johnson will end his SAC Holiday Tournament career as the only four year starter in the history of the tournament to not have a single blemish on his win-loss record in the event. He has now won four tournament titles while in the starting lineup at North Side.

Shorter led the Archers with 21 points, knocking down a game high five three pointers. He added nine rebounds. Mikale Stevenson scored 19 points, had nine rebounds and five steals.

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