FOLLOW THE 14-1 WARHAWKS
Wednesday, January 9 — host Wauconda, 7:00
Saturday, January 12 — host Libertyville, 7:30
Friday, January 19 — host Grant, 7:30
Updated: March 1, 2013 2:37AM
Turns out it’s not the shoes, but the quality of the players wearing the shoes that matters.
Rock Island’s Runnin’ Rocks wore flashy gold/yellow shoes that stood out in a crowd during the State Farm Classic prep boys basketball tournament that was held this week in downstate Bloomington/Normal.
But the team that stood out the most at the 16-team tournament was North Chicago, which outplayed Rock Island and won 69-61 on Saturday to win the tournament championship and improve to 14-1 on the season.
North Chicago beat Chilicothe IVC, Hononegah, Peoria Notre Dame and Rock Island to win the tourney for the first time in its four appearances in the event.
And this latest win was never really in doubt.
In fact, North Chicago was so dominant that it’s all-tourney selections were juniors JaVairius Amos-Mays and Big Kurt Hall, and yet the best player on the floor Saturday was junior JayQuan McCloud.
You stop one. You stop two. No way you’re going to stop all three.
McCloud scored 32 points — scoring from the foul line, with the three-ball and with two slam dunks.
He was instrumental in breaking the game open for the final time in the final four minutes. After North Chicago let a double-digit lead shrink to 52-48, McCloud dunked on a run-out and then drained a three-pointer on back-to-back possessions and it was 57-48 and over.
He also ended the game with an exclamation-point dunk that excited the big crowd on hand in the gym on campus at Illinois Wesleyan University.
The Warhawks’ seven-man rotation — including Jarrod Coleman, Emmanuel January, Timothy Dixon and Terrance Smith — was effective, except for two areas:
■ Free-throw shooting: North Chicago was 16-of-30 with point-guard Dixon 1-for-6.
■ Mental lapses whenever the lead got to double digits, that led to silly fouls and bad turnovers that made the final score on paper closer than the game really was on the court.
North Chicago now has three home games before playing twice at Young High School on MLK weekend in Chicago.