Niles North captures CSL North crown
Skokie Friday, 2/8/13 Niles North's Billy Voitik (15) puts up a shot over Maine East's Marko Protic (30) during the first quarter of Friday's game. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media ORG XMIT: 01100602A
Updated: February 9, 2013 12:11AM
SKOKIE — The Niles North boys basketball team clinched its first outright CSL North title since 2000 with a 61-40 victory over Maine East on Friday night.
“It feel great to win conference,” said Vikings senior Malachi Nix, who led all scorers with 20 points. “All the hard work really pays off.”
The hard work was evident on defense as Niles North forced 23 Maine East turnovers, including four 5-second calls. Niles North also dominated the backboards with a 26-15 advantage in rebounds. The Vikings hit seven 3-pointers, with Nix, BJ Beckford and Harvey Penn each having two.
Leading only 27-20 at halftime, Niles North (21-3 overall, 9-0 conference) outscored Maine East (5-19, 1-8) 13-3 to start the second half, as Nix had six of the points. The Blue Demons would get no closer than 14 thereafter.
“I loved the way we came out in the third quarter,” Niles North coach Glenn Olson said. “We stayed aggressive and our kids were guarding the heck out of the ball.”
The play of the game came early in the third quarter when Nix, who was at the 3-point line, spotted Beckford open under the basket. The 5-8 point guard threw a picture-perfect lob pass. Beckford grabbed the ball with two hands and slammed it through the hoop, sending the senior night crowd into a frenzy.
“It was there and Malachi saw me,” said Beckford, a senior. “It was a great pass. We’ve always wanted to do one.”
Beckford, who returned after sitting out one game, finished with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while Danilo Ranger added 10 points off the bench. Maine East was led by Evan Nazzal with 9 points (three 3-pointers), while freshman Ezeke Omeke had seven rebounds.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper Thursday to read more about the Niles North boys basketball team.