CALUMET CITY | It took an entire regular season, but maybe the T.F. North boys basketball team is putting it all together.
Friday, the Meteors played together and almost error-free in a 55-40 win over Oak Forest. When Oak Forest tried to make a run, North didn't fold, but it came back with the fire for which coach Tim Bankston's teams are known.
Bankston is hoping the senior leadership he got in the last week will carry through the Class 4A playoffs.
"I told them after the game tonight (Friday), we're 0-0 right now and nobody is looking for us to do anything," Bankston said. "This is my favorite time, because I can see how my seniors will step up and how the younger guys will react.
"I'd like to see us go on a little run, at least five more wins."
That would give the Meteors, who are 10-16, a Lockport Sectional title. That sectional is one of the toughest, and the Joliet Central Regional has top-seeded Bloom Township. North is the No. 16 seed and plays No. 17 Joliet Central on Monday. The winner gets the Blazing Trojans on Tuesday.
Bankston has seen his team come around after a season of frustration and watching games slip away.
"The last couple games we got better," Bankston said. "We played a little better against Hyde Park, but couldn't finish. I like that the kids didn't quit when things were tough."
The seniors will have to continue their leadership role, which was evident Friday night. The big men came up big after a season of struggling, and Torin Washington is also optimistic.
"We have a good chance of having a 5-0 run in the playoffs," Washington said. "We just have to play hard like we did tonight."
The guard play has certainly improved with just seven turnovers Friday. I know Oak Forest (12-13) isn't Bloom Township, but North has struggled against everyone all year with turnovers and inability to get the ball inside.
"We are looking forward to the playoffs and to have a win tonight at home, that is a good way to go into the playoffs," senior Eric Wood said. "We have come together as a team, and we want to keep playing."
Bankston's teams usually struggle early, and the Meteors play a tough schedule, which often accounts for a less-than-stellar record. He feels it toughens them up, and this year it just took a little longer.
You never want a team to jell in November, and this team may be coming together at the right time. The only thing is, the schedule gets a little tougher than the one they endured in the regular season.
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.