After watching their girls team surrender a nine-point halftime lead and lose by a point the game before, the Northside High School boys team made sure to leave no doubt about who was the better team as they defeated Putnam 81-42 at the Mary Persons Holiday Classic.
From the opening tip, it was clear that Northside wanted to push the pace and pressure Putnam into turnovers. The strategy clearly worked; the Eagles were able to get 21 steals during the game which led to numerous easy layups.
The Eagles smothering full court press was made more impressive because Northside played 10 players in the first quarter. Their second unit was responsible for their 25-14 lead at the end of the quarter and they never looked back.
Five who mattered
Greg Fordham: The senior forward came off the bench to record 17 points and 12 rebounds that included six offensive rebounds.
Jermaine Jackson: The shooting guard was all over the place on defense. He lead the team with six steals to go with his nine points. He also had numerous other deflections and was a nuisance to the Putnam backcourt all afternoon.
Willie Northern: The sophomore scored 12 points off the bench and was a big part of the second unit that frustrated Putnam and put the Eagles’ lead out of reach.
Jamarcus Thompson: The sophomore utility scored 12 points in minimal time. He was the beneficiary of some great passes, which he was able to capitalize on.
Jordan Brown: The freshman made his presence felt defensively near the basket. He pulled down eight rebounds and blocked three shots.
The Eagles are deep, athletic, and hungry.
The substitution patterns were not a product of the lopsided game. This team legitimately has enough talent to produce two starting lineups.
That depth and athleticism allows them to press without fear of foul trouble. It also makes the competition for playing time fierce. Players know if they do not produce someone else will.
They said it
Head coach Matthew Simon on his team’s depth: “I feel like from No. 4 all the way to about 15 there’s not a lot of difference in those guys so we are able to plug them in.”
On his team’s areas for improvement: “Our Achilles heel all season has been 3-point shooting and free throw shooting. So all were going to do is continue to work on it on practice, try to get better, try to do skill work and eventually we’ll get to a position where we need to be with those things.”
On managing playing time: “It’s absolutely the hardest part about a team with so much depth. The way I do it is if you don’t get out there and bust your butt, your coming out of the game. Playing time is earned in practice, so if you bust your butt in practice I expect you to bust it in a game.”
The Eagles will take on Carrollton, who defeated West Laurens, in the second round. Tip off is set for 5:30 Friday.