Another strong game from Nix helps Niles North top Loyola
Updated: December 27, 2012 9:34PM
WHEELING — It’s been a memorable 24 hours in the basketball career of Malachi Nix.
Thursday, the Niles North senior scored 20 points in leading the Vikings to a 64-49 victory over Loyola in the quarterfinals of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic. This performance followed Wednesday’s 18-point output in a first-round win over Vernon Hills.
As one might expect from a scorer such as Nix, he came out firing early against Loyola. He made his first two 3-point attempts, jump-starting the Vikings as they led 6-0 in the first three minutes, and Niles North led 20-7 after one quarter. The team was 5-of-6 from beyond the arc in the first quarter.
“I was feeling good in warmups so when I hit those 3s it got everybody else going,” Nix said. “We talked about it at halftime of the Vernon Hills game. We need to pick it up, start out with energy.”
Senior Lorenzo Dillard (11 points) made his presence felt in the second quarter. Dillard’s backcourt steal and layup gave Niles North (9-2) its largest lead of the game at 26-11 with five minutes remaining in the first half. The Vikings’ pressure forced the Ramblers (7-5) into 11 first-half turnovers.
“We have a lot respect for how Loyola is and how good its shooters are,” Niles North coach Glenn Olson said. “Today from the get-go we were a unified team.”
Loyola’s best chance to cut into the Vikings’ lead was late in the third quarter.
Senior guard Jack Byrne raced coast-to-coast off a missed free throw and was fouled, giving him a chance at a 3-point play. He missed, and the score remained 46-35 Niles North with 38 seconds left in the quarter.
Nix then took over the game, scoring five straight points during a decisive 15-5 Vikings run.
Loyola was led by junior Jack Morrissey who scored 17 points. Senior Billy Voitik added eight rebounds for the Vikings.
Niles North will play St. Viator in a semifinal game at 7:15 p.m. Friday.