Sunday, March 13, 2011
By Matt Harness
John King's contributions go mostly unnoticed, but Niles North's defensive stopper made himself known Friday at New Trier.
The senior guard forced a turnover late and Andre Shaw followed with a baseline three-pointer as the 20th-ranked Vikings rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat the Schaumburg 53-52 for the program's first-ever sectional championship.
"We're a second-half team," said King, whose team won for the ninth time in a row and is 16-1 since a Dec. 30 loss to Notre Dame. "We always know we have a chance. We always know we're never out of a game."
Kyle Bolger's basket in the opening minutes of the second half gave the 15th-seeded Saxons a 36-20 lead.
King's three-point play with 2:26 to go in the third cut the deficit down to 10 before Earl Washington scored three points in the final 21.9 seconds of the quarter to leave the score 40-34.
Fourth-seeded Niles North (24-6) continued its comeback in the fourth.
Washington started an 8-0 run that ended with Mychael Henley giving the Vikings their first lead of the at 45-44 with 4:31 remaining. Jimmy Lunquist's two free throws put the Saxons (18-12) ahead 47-45, but Abdel Nader tied the game nearly two minutes later.
King then got the turnover and Nader assisted Shaw's clutch three-pointer that started Niles North's final charge toward school history.
But the Vikings had to hold their breath as Mark Bielanski's wide-open three-point effort bounced off the rim.
Playing in its second sectional final in a row, Schaumburg built up its big lead in the first half by going 15-for-16 on free throws. Bielanski's three right before the break gave the Saxons a 34-20 advantage heading into the locker room.
"Coach just told us to give it all we got," King said of Glenn Olson, who's in the his second season with the Vikings.
Nader finished with a game-high 23 points and added three blocks. Javon McDonald scored 15 for the Saxons, who went 19-for-22 on free throws. Schaumburg's Lundquist contributed 12 points in the season-ending loss.
Niles North plays No. 6-ranked Warren on Tuesday at the Waukegan Supersectional.