TINLEY PARK | T.F. North showed it is not giving up on the season with a tough and physical game against Tinley Park on Friday night.
The Meteors and Titans began the game exchanging steals and quick points, but T.F. North blew open the South Suburban Blue game in the second quarter, scoring 24 points and creating a lead that pushed double digits most of the game.
"We did a great job controlling the boards, and I thought our defense was exceptional. I am so proud of my kids," said T.F. North coach Tim Bankston.
The score was buoyed in the second half almost exclusively by free throws as the Meteors were limited to four field goals, but managed a win heading to the free throw line 49 times. Christian Johnson led all scorers with 25 points, cashing in on 15 of 17 free throws, and adding five field goals, en route to a 66-54 win over Tinley Park.
"The past few days, our coaches have been telling us we had to play hard and showing us film with previous teams getting to the line," Johnson said. "I just wanted to come out and get to the line and do what I had to do to help my team win."
Bankston said he was pleased with his team's intensity and while he is not counting out this season, he acknowledged part of his team's problems this year is its youth and inexperience.
"They are young and sometimes young kids don't listen, they've got to get burned a lot. I think we got torched this year, but hopefully, we can bounce back the next few games and make some noise in the playoffs," Bankston said.
(Before) we had played lackadaisical we weren't gelling, there was a lot of one-on-one selfishness," said Vance Johnson, who had 13 points. "We played hard and our defensive intensity was up and we played together for once and we had an inside presence that we were missing."
The two big men for the Meteors (7-11, 5-4) dominated the boards with a combined 15 rebounds against the Titans (6-11, 3-5).
"I hope this is a sign they are ready to bring it, because if they play like this every night, we are going to be tough down the stretch and send some teams home crying," Bankston said. "I always tell them, it is not the way you start, it is the way you finish."