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Team play, smart shots lift Maine South over Niles North

Maine South basketball is all about good decisions: unselfish play with crisp passes that lead to back door layups. The Hawks do not play hero ball.

The discipline is almost freakish. It’s just not seen on any other team in the area. Maine South took just two jumpers (both successful three-pointers) in a 59-53 win over Niles North Tuesday in Skokie.

“When it comes down to it trusting the system is key,” said Maine South senior George Sargeant. “We trusted it and ground out a win. It helps in close games like this that we’ve all had our fair share of time in the system. Everyone plays for each other and we’re unselfish.”

The Hawks scored 11 baskets on back door or fast break layups and had 11 baskets on post moves at basically point-blank range under the basket.

“That’s the style they forced us to play,” said Maine South coach Tony Lavorato Jr. “That’s what was available. When you look at the two teams we are at totally different extremes.”

Niles North was all jumpers. The Hawks’ zone defense clogged up the court and the Vikings weren’t left with many options other than the three-point shot. Niles North shot 9 for 31 from beyond the arc.

Two free throws from senior Malik Dupree with 2:06 to play cut Maine South’s lead to 54-53. But that was as close as it would get. The Hawks held Niles North scoreless for the rest of the game.

Senior Davis Neilands scored with 1:35 to play to make the cushion three points and Maine South shot 3 for 6 from the free throw line

from then on, not great, but good enough to get the victory.

“There is no excuse for that,” said Lavorato. “That opened the doors for them a little bit. And we had way too many turnovers.”

The Hawks committed 17 turnovers, but were much cleaner in the second half. Lavorato lit into his team after watching them commit eight turnovers in the first quarter.

“Whenever you win early you feel fortunate,” said Lavorato. “We are a shadow of what we are going to be.”

Jon Arenas scored 14 and grabbed six rebounds for Maine South (5-0). Caleb deMarigny also scored 14 and Sargeant, a 6-7 center, added 13 points and six boards. The five starters scored all of the points, with senior Nick Ruben rounding out the scoring with seven.

Junior Diondre Williams led Niles North (4-1) with 14 points. Danny Kim scored 10 and Crishawn Cook added eight points and nine rebounds. Junior Danilo Ranger, the Vikings’ best player, missed the game with a sprained left ankle. He’s expected to play in Niles North’s next game.