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Despite a couple of subpar games, BJ Beckford had a sense he was about to break out.
The Niles North senior delivered 17 points on Friday night to spark the Vikings to a 67-49 victory over St. Viator in a Wheeling Hardwood Classic semifinal.
“I told him [head coach Glenn Olson] that I was feeling good,” said Beckford of a pregame chat. “Even though I didn’t have my best games [earlier in the tournament], I felt like I was going to do something good.”
His best moments came in the third quarter. With the Vikings leading just 34-30, Beckford popped in a three-pointer from the right baseline. A little later, Beckford nailed another trey to bump the advantage to 46-33.
“They [teammates] get mad at me when I don’t shoot,” Beckford said.
“They encourage me to shoot, which boosts my confidence a lot.” Niles North (10-2) also enjoyed the work of senior Malachi Nix (15 points, seven assists, five steals) and senior Lorenzo Dillard (14 points, five
assists). Beckford is happy to have Nix on his side.
“You never know what he’s going to do,” Beckford said. “It will be a crossover, pullup or a no-look pass.”
St. Viator fell to 9-2 despite the work of junior Ore Arogundale (18 points, seven rebounds).
“Ore is always outstanding in transition,” said Vikings coach Glenn Olson. “He’s a tough guy to guard with one guy, so we had to send all
five guys at him.” A layup by Arogundale cut the deficit to 54-42 early in the fourth quarter. But six quick points by Dillard put the game away.
Ultimately, the difference in the game was the Niles North defense.
“I thought our defense played very well tonight,” Olson said.