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One week after ending Glenbrook North’s 11-year run as CSL North champions, Niles North had Jon Scheyer in its sights.
Scheyer’s 2005-2006 Spartans were the last team to go undefeated in the CSL North until the Vikings beat Deerfield 56-55 in Friday night’s conference finale.
“We wanted to come out here and do what no one has done since Jon Scheyer played at GBN,” Niles North senior B.J. Beckford said. “We wanted to come out here for the first time in (seven) years and go 10-0. It feels good.”
The Vikings (23-3) walked away from Deerfield with an unblemished 10-0 record, but Friday night’s game represented their toughest in-conference test of the season. The Warriors (10-14, 3-7 CSL North) traded the lead with Niles North throughout the second half, and the largest lead in the second half was the Vikings’ five-point advantage with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Deerfield sophomore Sam Kuznetsky’s fifth three-pointer of the game – the 5-foot-10 guard made all five of his three-point attempts and finished with a game-high 21 points – cut that lead to two points. But Beckford and senior Malachi Nix came through in the final minute.
Nix made one of two free throws to stretch Niles North’s lead to 53-50. Kuznetsky answered with a pull-up jumper from the baseline to cut Deerfield’s deficit to one point. Beckford answered with two free throws before Nix blocked junior Eric Porter’s three-point attempt with approximately eight seconds left. Beckford grabbed the lose ball and then hit the game-winning free throw.
Going undefeated in the CSL North “is definitely a big deal,” Nix said. “It hasn’t been done since Jon Scheyer, a really good player... It’s pretty great.”