Nix’s big night leads Niles North past Loyola
Loyola's Richie Wehman drives the lane during their regional final against Niles North in Wilmette March 1, 2013. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 1, 2013 11:08PM
WILMETTE — Niles North senior guard Malachi Nix scored 39 points, including 30 in the second half, to lead the No. 4-seeded Vikings to a 68-57 win over No. 5 Loyola in Friday night’s Class 4A Loyola Regional final.
The 5-foot-8 Nix hit five 3-pointers, four of them in the third quarter, as the Vikings (26-4) stretched a two-point halftime lead to double-digits. Niles North won its third straight boys basketball regional crown.
Nix, a fourth-year varsity player, scored 44 points earlier this season, but Niles North coach Glenn Olson said Friday’s performance trumped that.
“This is the best I’ve seen him play, because of the stage and how he kind of took it upon himself,” Olson said. “This was the best performance I’ve ever seen Malachi have, both offensively and defensively.”
Nix guarded Loyola sharpshooter Jack Morrissey, making the junior work for everything he got. Morrissey finished with 25 points, but two of his six 3-pointers came in the last minute with the final result in little doubt.
Morrissey opened the game with a 3-pointer as the Ramblers ran out to an early 9-0 lead.
But Nix and fellow senior BJ Beckford (20 points, 14 in the second quarter) pulled the visitors from Skokie back and ultimately ahead.
The second half belonged to Nix, who continues to receive interest from only a handful of lower Division I schools.
“I think that Malachi Nix is an absolutely phenomenal player,” Loyola coach Tom Livatino said. “I think he’s a Division I player and it’s a shame that he (is not getting a lot of interest). I coached (former Northwestern star) Michael Thompson at Lincoln Park and they share a lot of the same attributes, diminutive in size, ridiculously large hearts.”
Junior James Clarke added 14 points for Loyola, which saw its 15-game winning streak snapped. The Ramblers (22-6) last loss had been to Niles North in the Wheeling Hardwood Classic in December.
Pick up your local Pioneer Press newspaper Thursday to read more about the Niles North and Loyola boys basketball teams.
Class 4A Loyola Regional final
Niles North 68, Loyola 57
Kevin Kucera 4, Richie Wehman 3, James Clarke 14, Jack Morrissey 25, Matt Sullivan 6, Griffin Boehm 0, Matthew Bauer 0, Chris Sullivan 2, Jack Byrne 0.
Niles North (26-4)
Malachi Nix 39, BJ Beckford 20, JJ Myles 0, Billy Voitik 3, Harvey Penn 5, Danilo Ranger 0, Jason Tayloe 1, Will Donado 0, Malik Dupree 0, James Sarris 0.
Loyola 16-7-17-17 — 57
Niles North 12-13-24-19 — 68
3-point goals — Loyola 9 (Morrissey 6, Clarke 3), Niles North 9 (Nix 5, Beckford 3, Penn). Fouled out — Clarke.