CHICAGO | Scoring wows the crowd, but defense gets the job done.
T.F. North proved as much Tuesday in its Class 4A regional semifinal game. Seeded ninth, and expecting an even battle with eighth-seeded Andrew, the Meteors instead took the game from the Thunderbolts in the second and third quarters, forcing 18 turnovers in that stretch to set up a 65-47 victory.
"All the steals come from our work ethic," Meteors coach Tim Zasada said. "This is a great example tonight. They were an eighth seed, and we made them look like a 16th seed."
That's a difficult point to argue. Andrew held an 11-9 lead before Devin Luster's 3-pointer from the left side moved T.F. North ahead to stay with 58 seconds left in the first quarter. Then the defense clamped down.
"The key was stopping their point guard," said Meteors guard Chardae Greenlee, who had eight steals and scored 10 points. "That's what we needed."
In the end, T.F. North stopped everyone. The Meteors outscored Andrew 36-17 in the second and third quarters, getting help from all corners. Sharee Greenlee's 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer was the exclamation point on the first 16 minutes, and by the end of the third, when it was 51-29, only the final margin was in doubt.
Center Sabrina Montgomery led T.F. North with 16 points, with Chanelle Howard adding 12 and sub Tashia Johnson contributing 11. Andrew's plucky Tania Karapulos, resplendent in orange sneakers, led all hands with 19 points.
T.F. North (20-7) is seven-of-seven in collecting 20-win seasons under Zasada, who becomes Reavis' football coach in the fall. Now his last Meteors squad has the dubious honor of playing Marist, an old rival, in Thursday's regional final.
Marist won the regular-season encounter.
"We're a different team now," Zasada said.
So are the RedHawks. They romped in the first semifinal, scoring an 80-27 victory against Thornton Township, and advanced their record to 29-1. The Wildcats had knocked off Thornwood 58-50 on Monday after trailing by nine points.
Andrew finished its season 17-9.
Before the game, T.F. North's Schemia Battle advanced to Thursday's round of the Three-Point Showdown.