North Lawndale beats Farragut as both teams move on from last season’s brawl

North Lawndale beat visiting Farragut 76-67 and the game finished without incident. The teams and coaches met a few days before the game to make sure everything would proceed smoothly.

SHARE North Lawndale beats Farragut as both teams move on from last season’s brawl
North Lawndale’s Ronald Chambers (10) moves the ball against Farragut.

North Lawndale’s Ronald Chambers (10) moves the ball against Farragut.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

North Lawndale coach Carlos Toliver knew Wednesday’s game against Farragut was going to require a special touch.

The Phoenix and Admirals last matchup, back in March in the Class 3A state playoffs, was stopped late in the fourth quarter after a brawl involving both teams and fans. Most of the players were underclassmen, so they are back this season.

Toliver made sure not to amp his players up too much before the game.

“I tried to downplay the game as much as I could,” Toliver said. “They are still kids and there was a lot of hype around it. The first half was not a good half for us but I knew once we got the jitters out and I had a chance to talk to them at halftime we would come out and play some good basketball.”

North Lawndale beat visiting Farragut 76-67 and the game finished without incident. The teams and coaches met a few days before the game to make sure everything would proceed smoothly and administrators from both schools and Chicago Public Schools were in attendance.

“It makes me feel so good that the game went well and this is behind us now,” Toliver said. “What happened is not North Lawndale basketball. That is not what we live for. We are here to play basketball, not all that nonsense. That really broke my heart. I felt helpless when I saw [the brawl] happening. I was really looking forward to this game to show the city that we can play basketball. I have a lot of respect for [Farragut coach William Nelson] and all of their players. I know them all personally. I wanted both teams to show the city that we can play good basketball and have good sportsmanship, no matter who wins or loses.”

Farragut (0-3, 0-3 Red/North-West) jumped out to a 20-7 lead and led 37-32 at halftime. The Admirals are big and strong and talented but they are not deep. Nelson says there are only about 500 students enrolled at Farragut. He no longer has a freshman or sophomore team. The varsity roster lists 13 players and Nelson played just six in the first half and seven in the second.

“Our rotation is short,” Nelson said. “We started well. Sometimes they lose a bit of focus when they get tired and start missing free throws. Our conditioning needs to get better.”

The Phoenix (6-1, 3-0) ran away from the Admirals in the second half. Jamar Wilkins scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and junior Daequan Davis added 16 points and seven rebounds.

“Jamar Wilkins is the rock,” Toliver said. “We are going to go as far as he takes us. Bringing him back this year I felt comfortable we could win any game.”

North Lawndale out-rebounded Farragut 47-38. Nelson’s teams are traditionally among the city’s best at rebounding.

“I told the guys at halftime that we had to come out and crush them on the boards,” Toliver said. “They don’t sub a lot and we have to rebound the basketball and protect our home floor. That would decide the game.”

Larry Johnson, a 6-4 junior, had seven points and ten rebounds for North Lawndale. He was matched up against Farragut’s bulky and talented sophomore twins, 6-4 Mikell and Mikqwon Jones. Mikell finished with 14 points and seven rebounds and Mikqwon had 18 points and eight rebounds.

“They are big,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t out jump the two of them and they were putting their bodies on me. But I just kept at it.”

Ronald Chambers, one of the city’s highly-regarded freshmen, added 13 points for the Phoenix.

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