CALUMET CITY | In the T.F. North boys basketball team's 65-33 win over Evergreen Park on Friday, the Meteors showed they learned from last year's disappointing season.
When the game was close, Nick Wood took over and the Meteors went from there.
Wood and guard D.J. Deere are seniors are are expected to lead this team, where last year, they learned by taking their lumps.
"We knew that kind of," North coach Tim Bankston said. "We also know with a tough schedule, that will make us tougher come March. That also means we have to be ready to play every night."
Even after a sloppy start, the Meteors did not allow Evergreen Park to get in control. Last year, this team might have faded and gave up. Wood took control at the end of the second and beginning of the third quarters, but he had help. Deere ran the show, but Marquis Todd had a few blocks and some big rebounds. Danya Coleman had a few baskets and the Meteors just played good defense.
"We want to show T.F. North basketball is back," Deere said. "Last year was tough and as seniors, we have to make sure we get the job done."
One game does not a season make and Bankston does not put a lot of stock into early-season games. That is why he is usually the last team to open the season.
"We want to get better and this month is going to test us," Bankston said. "We have like four games in five days in mid-December. All against tough teams. This will test our kids and our goal is to just improve.
And to pick some some wins along the way. The Meteors play Bogan Sunday, then play at Eisnehower and Richards next week. They also have Marshall in the Derrick Rose tournament. Bankston also has his team in the prestigious State Farm Holiday Classic in Bloomington/Normal.
I have high expectations and the kids do too," Bankston said. "Last year there was about 10 games or so that could have went either way and we just didn't finish. The same thing this year, but I think we have the kids who can finish. I hope I am not jinxing us, but I like the makeup of this team and I think we will develop chemistry as the season goes on."
North did throw the ball away early, but it forced 22 first-half turnovers from Evergreen Park. Against some of the top teams, this could be its demise as the Marshalls, Bogans and Hillcrests of the basketball world will take advantage of that. I am sure that will be corrected. If you know Bankston and his staff, they will address that this morning at practice.
"You do have to remember one thing though," Bankston said. "They are hard workers, but in the bigger picture, they are still kids."
This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.