Boys Basketball: Niles North, Evanston ready for neighborhood showdown
Updated: March 8, 2012 7:22PM
Situated in towns next door to each other, most of the players on Evanston and Niles North know each other well.
In fact, the Vikings’ Malachi Nix and the Wildkits’ Josh Irving are first cousins. Nix and teammate Lorenzo Dillard both were raised in Evanston.
The two teams split games last season, and Friday at Glenbrook South will be time to settle the neighborhood score for now. Top prize is a sectional championship and right to advance to Tuesday’s supersectional at Chicago State.
“A lot of kids grew up with each other and know each other,” Niles North coach Glenn Olson said. “It should be a lot of fun.”
The Vikings (21-8) are seeking their sectional championship in a row after winning the program’s first last year. The Wildkits (20-10) are after their first title since 2008 when they took third place in the state.
“I expect these two teams to play as hard as they can,” Evanston coach Mike Ellis said. “Watching them play the last couple of weeks, that’s something they bring to the table. Coach Olson has them playing hard, playing well and making good decisions.
“It’s going to be a real challenge.”
Both teams play similar styles, offensively and defensively. Each likes to get up and down the floor, share the ball and play man-to-man defense.
“I hope it’s an intense, physical and fast-paced,” Olson said. “I have a lot of respect for how they play.”
Nix is averaging 19 points a game in three playoff wins, while Dillard is scoring 16.6 a game. He scored a team-best 21 in the team’s win over Glenbrook North in the regional final.
Meanwhile, the Wildkits are more balanced on offense. Leonard Garron led the team with 11 points in playoff opener, and Irving was tops on the team in the past two games. But Terrell Farmby and Jordan Perrin also have provided scoring when needed.
“You rarely get a matchup with two teams that marry each other’s styles,” Ellis said.
No matter which team wins, the CSL is guaranteed at least one sectional champion for a fifth consecutive season since the IHSA went to four classes.
“It’s going to be a fun rivalry,” Nix said. “It’s going to be fun Friday.”