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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, March 10, 2018 3:00 pm

North Side advances to regional finals; Homestead falls in semis

MARK SCHUTTE | For The Journal Gazette

LOGANSPORT – A bevy of major college coaches were on hand to watch North Side’s 5-star recruit Keion Brooks on Saturday morning, and in the game’s biggest moment he gave them something to remember.

His North Side teammates did a pretty good job in a supporting role along the way.

Brooks completed a 3-point play that gave North Side the lead for good and then forced a turnover with 12 seconds to go to help the Legends secure a 55-51 win over Zionsville in the first game of the Logansport Class 4A Regional.

In the second game, Carmel held off a Homestead rally for a 46-41 win and a matchup against North Side in Saturday night’s regional championship for the second year in a row.

A year ago, Brooks had 6-foot-10 teammate Jaylen Butz and many others who shared the load for the Legends.

As a junior this year, he has become more of the team’s lead singer, which is why the likes of colleges coaches Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Chris Holtman (Ohio State), Patrick Ewing (Georgetown) along with assistants Bruiser Flint (Indiana) and Brandon Brantley (Purdue) were front and center Saturday morning.

Brooks finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. But the Legends also got 13 points each from Lucas Kroft and four-year starter Brandan Johnson and eight from Austin Boucher.

Brooks may have been center-stage, but he was hardly a solo act.

“Some bands are Sly and Family Stone and you have the Gap Band,” North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq said. “We don’t want to be Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores, we want to be a collective band. The bandmates stepped up and did a great job. Every band has a lead singer and he’s ours, but some of the guys stepped up and shared the vocals.”

Zionsville (22-4), at No. 7 the highest ranked team in the field, nearly cancelled North Side’s plan for an encore Saturday night behind the 26 points of another highly-touted junior, Isaiah Thompson, who has committed to Purdue, where his brother P.J. is currently the Boilermakers senior point guard.

Thompson finished with a game-high 26 points and was playing the top of a 2-3 zone that kept Brooks’ touches limited.

The game featured 11 lead changes and was tied nine times, the last time at 47 on a baseline jumper by Kroft.

On the Legends’ next possession, Brooks set up along the baseline, where Johnson found him with a bullet pass. Brooks took one step toward the goal and slammed it while being fouled by Will Alcock. Brooks made the free throw to put North Side up 50-47 with 1:36 to play.

“That was a play we run out of the zone,” Brooks said. “We ran it earlier in the game and I caught it and I left it a little short. When I got to the sideline, coaches told me to dunk it. That time I made sure I got caught and went in and finished.”

Nate Carbaugh and Kroft each hit two free throws after Thompson scored twice for the Eagles and North Side led 54-51 with 20 seconds to play.

As Thompson then brought the ball past midcourt, Brooks hedged a screen and beat Thompson to the spot, causing Thompson to lose the ball out of bounds.

“We really wanted to get the ball out of his hands,” Brooks said. “He was tough all night. I feel like I got him a couple times hedging out and switching. I’m a big guy but I can move my feet as well. I saw him trying to bounce off the screen and I just jumped to the spot and we hit chest-to-chest and the ball went out of bounds.”

The second game came down to making plays in the final minute, but Carmel was the one who made them against Homestead, ending the Spartans’ season at 18-8.

Homestead struggled from the start, missing its first seven shots and going the opening 6:20 without scoring. On the day, the Spartans shot 35 percent from the field, 33 percent from 3 and were outrebounded 27-20.

Still, the Spartans had a chance in the final five minutes. Despite never leading or being tied, the Spartans opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run and knotted the game at 34-34 when Jack Archbold scored with 4:55 to play.

“It was awesome from our second half standpoint that our kids came out and kept fighting,” Homestead coach Chris Johnson said. “We were struggling on the offensive end, but give credit to them, they really locked us down on the defensive end.

“When we got it to 34-all I thought some good things were going to happen. But give credit to them, they made plays when they needed to and the ball didn’t bounce our way.”

That was never more true after Carmel took a 36-34 lead and the Spartans followed with two missed opportunities inside by Archbold and Onye Ezeakudo.

“What hurt was we had two point-blank layups,” Johnson began. “Again they’re contested, but if those fall, it’s 36-all, then anything can change.

“But when you’re down two, down four against a good team like that, where they have good guards that can handle the basketball, they’re good free throw shooters, it’s tough to come back.”

Eddie Gill scored inside for the Greyhounds to make it 38-34 and then they made 8-of-8 free throws in the final two minutes to ruin any Homestead comeback.

Freshman Luke Goode, with four 3-pointers, led the Spartans with 13, while Ezeakudo finished with nine. Jalen Whack led Carmel with 12 points off the bench.