CALUMET CITY | Unlike past years T.F. North isn’t one of the big boys on the block this year. They’re the young upstarts trying to find out who they are.
“We’re a team looking for an identity right now,” T. F. North coach Tim Bankston said. “We have to play like big boys and not babies. Tonight we came out a little timid, with our schedule by February we’ll be big boys or we’ll be in trouble.”
With only two seniors on the roster Bankston has had to do a lot of teaching as well as coaching this season and is still trying to find the right combination of players to get the Meteors (1-1) ready the season.
“We’ve been very inconsistent during practice,” Bankston said. “It’s taken a lot of patience, coaching and teaching. Even when we pull them out of the game we have to coach them up to correct things early.”
His philosophy paid off as the Meteors went deep into their bench to find the right lineup to overcome a slow start before beating Oak Lawn by a score of 50-36 on Friday night.
After watching the Spartans (1-1) take an early 8-2 lead the Meteors clamped down defensively and after a 17-3 run appeared to have things under control with a 19-11 lead but the Spartans weren’t ready to lay down just yet.
Oak Lawn battled back to cut the lead to one at 20-19 but would get no closer as the Meteors' size and athleticism took over in the second half.
Senior center Jay Harvey had four blocks and four rebounds in the second half to lead the defensive charge.
“Our guards played well and hit some big shots tonight but we need to be better inside,” Bankston said. “Jay Harvey has only played one year of basketball for us, as he gets better we’ll get better he can control the paint.”
Senior guard Sadiq Salisu led the comeback with Harvey, scoring 11 of his game-high 15 points in the second half to get the offense on track.
“I started a little slow tonight but coach had me adjust my shot when I came out and it started falling,” Salisu said. “The young guys were a little nervous tonight, they were too worried about making mistakes but once they settled down and started just playing we got going.”
One of those young players was Dirk Jordan, who sparked the comeback with nine points and three rebounds as well as being all over the court defensively in his first varsity start.
“The varsity game is so much faster, you can’t think you just have to play,” Jordan said. “I was nervous in the beginning but I shook it off and felt a lot better as the game went on.”
Despite the double-digit win no one in the T.F. North locker room was satisfied with the team’s performance Friday.
“Having people look past us is embarrassing,” Jordan said. “We definitely have to do something about that.”