The Northside High boys basketball team entered Thursday night’s quarterfinal rematch with Jenkins hoping to repeat what it did on this date a year ago, when it defeated the Warriors on a last-second three-pointer.
Jenkins had other ideas.
The visiting Warriors erupted for 27 points in the first quarter and never looked back, rolling to an 81-60 victory to oust Northside from the Class AAAAA state playoffs. With its loss, Northside’s season comes to an end, while Jenkins will advance to the semifinals to face Miller Grove on Saturday.
“They’re good,” Northside coach Kenny Lawrence said of Jenkins. “They’re very athletic. They’re going to be a tough out, even for Miller Grove.”
From the start on Thursday, Northside didn’t have an answer for Jenkins, allowing the Warriors 12 points in the first two minutes. From the seven-minute mark to the four-minute mark, Jenkins went on a 14-0 run to jump in front 19-4. By the end of the first it was 27-13.
The Warriors had their success in the first quarter thanks to stingy defense creating fast break opportunities, which they easily converted. When they had the lane, they took the ball smoothly and effortlessly to the rim. When the defense collapsed on the ball, they kicked outside for three.
They hit three from long range in the first quarter, six in the entire game.
Jenkins continued its offensive barrage in the second quarter, scoring 21 more to Northside’s 13 and taking a 48-26 lead into halftime.
“They went on that early run and we could never recover,” Lawrence said.
Northside never got closer than an 18-point deficit in the second half. Jenkins was led by Malik Benlevi’s 19 points. It had three others score in double figures: Romain Gray wil 11, Cedric Woodson with 10 and Quasean Harris with 10. Northside was led by Phillip Whittington (20 points) and Davion Thomas (13 points) in the loss.
Lawrence called Northside’s trip to the quarterfinals a success when considering where the team was at the beginning of the season. After losing the 2012-13 All-Bi-City player of the year, R.J. Sessions, it was expected that the Patriots would take a step back from the success they experienced as a final four team a year ago.
Instead, they won their region and earned a bid in the quarterfinals due largely to the contributions of younger players like Thomas, a sophomore.
“I told the guys I was extremely proud of them,” Lawrence said. “Going in, we felt like we needed to develop our talent. We knew we had talent, but we lacked some experience. I didn’t know how far we could go until I saw the guys really start to put the work in.”
Northside loses only two seniors from this year’s team, Jelani McGlan and Jaylen Brewster.
“The future still looks bright,” Lawrence said. “We’ll have all five starters back.”
The expectation going forward is to make it back to this stage next year and give itself a chance late in the playoffs.
“We plan on being here again,” Lawrence said.
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Thursday at Northside
Jenkins 27 21 18 15—81
Northside 13 13 15 19—60
Malik Benlevi 19, Romaine Gray 11, Cedric Woodson 10, Quasean Harris 10, Carter 9, Lanier 8, Robbins 4, Thomas 4, Lamar 4, Polike 2.
Phillip Whittington 20, Davion Thomas 13, Richardson 8, Baker 7, Hall 4, Apiag 2, Scott 2, Hopkins 2, Brewster 2.
Records: Jenkins, 28-2; Northside, 18-11. Next: Jenkins, Sat. vs. Miller Grove in Class AAAAA semifinals; Northside, season over.