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North Chicago's JaVairius Amos-Mays (2) runs for the ball after almost colliding with Thornton Fractional North's Greg McClain (5) at Whitney Young High School Monday, January 21, 2013. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times Media
It was an equal opportunity trip for North Chicago as it defeated T.F. North 59-57 in the Martin Luther King Dream Classic Monday at Young.
The victory completed a sweep for the Warhawks — defeating a city team, a suburban team and a Catholic League team over the holiday weekend. North Chicago beat St. Ignatius Saturday and Farragut Sunday. While each game was close, the No. 4 Warhawks were more than up for the challenge.
North Chicago (20-1) led 40-31 at halftime before T.F. North’s Greg McClain scored eight points in a 12-3 run that tied the score at 43-43 with 4:18 remaining in the third quarter. From that point on, there were five ties and five lead changes.
With the score tied at 57-all, the Meteors went into a delay in the final minutes. But their layup attempt was blocked by Joseph Thomas, who sprinted the floor and converted the game-winning layup with 22 seconds remaining. North Chicago then used a smothering man-to-man defense that forced T.F. North (15-5) into a desperation shot with one second remaining in the game.
JaVairius Amos-Mays led three Warhawks in double figures with a game-high 22 points. Emmanuel January added 14, Kurt Hall had 11 and Thomas finished with nine.
North Chicago coach Gerald Coleman said the MLK Tournament was a good barometer to find out where his team is and what they have to get ready for down the stretch.
“I’m trying to get my rotation to nine players,” Coleman said. “It is time to see who wants to step up.”
Coleman did express concern about star guard Jayquan McCloud, who did not score in double figures in any of the three games. He has been struggling with his shot and pressing.
“We just have to get back home and get in the gym and he will be fine,” Coleman said.
Mays said the trip to Chicago has been helpful.
“Chicago plays a more aggressive and physical style of basketball,” Mays said. “You find yourself playing a lot of man-to-man and if you are not ready, you will get exposed. It only helps to make us better.”
Deland Deere led T.F. North with 17 points and McClain finished with 16.
“That team is not 20-1 for nothing,” said T.F. North coach Tim Bankston. “They are very talented and against them you have to value every possession. We didn’t show the patience we needed down the stretch in order to get a win.”