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MARION – At the entrance to a near-silent locker room with only muffled sobs emanating from within, North Side coach Shabaz Khaliq attempted to explain his team's 59-55 defeat to Hamilton Southeastern in the Class 4A Marion Regional semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
“I thought the whole game we got the looks we got all year, (the shots) just didn't go down,” Khaliq said. “I would not have changed anything … they were good shots and we just didn't make them.”
The Redskins (24-2) went just 7-of-24 from three-point range for the game. Many of the misses came uncontested after solid passing and good offensive sets.
In addition, North Side made some uncharacteristic mistakes in transition, missing easy layups and committing costly turnovers.
The Redskins led by as many as 10 early in the game and were tied with the Royals with less than 30 seconds to go, but faltered late primarily because of shooting.
“I think it was nerves for some of our kids,” Khaliq said. “Usually, they step up into their shots and shoot it with confidence. I think (Mike Davis) played well and relaxed, but our other guys were a little tense and hesitant.”
Davis led North Side with 22 points and Tre'Vion Crews added 13, but it was not enough as Hamilton Southeastern outscored the Redskins 18-8 from the free throw line and outrebounded them 32-19.
But the biggest reason for the loss was the missed shots.
“We felt like we stabbed ourselves in the foot and that's hard to live with,” Khaliq said. “If we went out there and got beat heavily, we could say that they were the better team, but … it's hard to swallow that we got beat.”
Norwell coach Randy Hawkins felt that the stat that jumped out about Muncie Central would help his team in a close game on Saturday at the Class 3A Blackford Regional.
Turns out it was the opposite.
The Bearcats entered the game shooting barely 60 percent from the free throw line, yet made 14-of-16 in the fourth quarter to hold off the Knights, 74-70.
“Give them credit, they hit their free throws at the end,” Hawkins said.
Norwell (19-7) lurked throughout the fourth quarter but was never able to get over the hump. With such a mediocre free throw shooting percentage it was expected that Muncie Central would eventually falter, but it never did.
The Knights had a couple chances late, cutting the lead to two points on a three-pointer by David Vogel with 33 seconds left and a driving shot by Austin Hayden with 15 seconds remaining. But Muncie Central kept hitting free throws.
“Our guys played hard,” Hawkins said. “We had that never-die, let's-stay-after-it kind of vibe. We had that confidence, that swagger that 'we're going to get this,' but we just fell short.”
* Four schools – Homestead, Clarksville, Michigan City Marquette Catholic and Liberty Christian – won their first-ever regional championships over the weekend.
* Indianapolis Arsenal Tech has the most regional championships of the 16 teams remaining in the state tournament with 10, yet had the second-longest regional title drought among the teams with prior titles. Tech won its first regional crown since 1978, topped only by the drought of Clay City (1974).
* Of the 16 regional champions, just two are on a run of consecutive championships, with Greensburg having won two straight and Bowman Academy three straight.
(All games Saturday)
Class A – Marquette Catholic (18-6) vs. Liberty Christian (20-6), 1 p.m.
Class 4A – Lake Central (21-3) vs. Homestead (20-7), approximately 3:15 p.m.
Class 2A – Westview (22-4) vs. Lewis Cass (22-2), 4 p.m.
Class 3A – Bowman Academy (21-4) vs. Bishop Dwenger (17-8), approximately 6:15 p.m.
Class A – Clay City (20-6) vs. Barr-Reeve (25-1), 1 p.m.
Class 2A – Park Tudor (22-4) vs. Clarksville (23-2), approximately 3:15 p.m.
Class 3A – Guerin Catholic (22-3) vs. Greensburg (26-1), 4 p.m.
Class 4A – Indianapolis Arsenal Tech (25-2) vs. Bloomington North (16-8), approximately 6:15 p.m.