MIDLOTHIAN | Not that an exclamation point was needed for T.F. North's first quarter against Bremen on Thursday night, but Sadiq Salisu provided one anyway.
His banked-in 55-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Meteors a 10-point lead and reinforced the idea that it would be his team's night.
T.F. North romped to a 59-23 victory over the Braves, and it was that close only because Meteors coach Tim Bankston took it easy on his South Suburban Blue lodge brothers after scooting to a 39-8 halftime lead.
"We wanted to get some momentum going into the playoffs," said Christian Johnson, who led the Meteors with 15 points. "We're playing hard right now. Everybody showed up (Thursday), and everybody played hard. We started the season a little rocky."
T.F. North's record is deceptive. The Meteors (11-11, 7-6) have won three straight, including Saturday's victory over Atherton in Saginaw, Mich., and would appear ready to give host Plainfield Central all it can handle when the Class 4A playoffs begin Monday night.
"We were just looking to continue our effort from the last three games," Bankston said. "(We want to) continue to play hard and continue to play defense hard. The trip to Michigan helped us as far as togetherness."
The cohesiveness of the Meteors is something that was missing earlier in the season on both offense and defense.
"I'm not ready to say we're ready to win a state championship, but I like what I see," Bankston said. "We've been so up and down, but the last three or four games, the energy level has been better. The kids have responded. I guess when you start to understand what you're doing, the game becomes more fun to you."
If the 18th-seeded Meteors get past Plainfield Central on Monday, Marian Catholic, the top seed in the Thornton Township Sectional and one of the Class 4A favorites, will be waiting for them.
"We can go deep in the playoffs," Johnson, a junior, said. "We're a young team, but we're seniors now. It's time to grow up. Everything we've learned, we need to keep it going as we go into the playoffs."
Bremen (8-15, 2-11) was led by Mack Holder's eight points.