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Niles N. steps it up at Hersey
By Ryan O’Gara | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 2/9/2013 10:32 PM

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For just over two quarters, Hersey kept pace with a lightning-quick Niles North squad.

Then Malachi Nix and the Vikings put on a third quarter performance that few high school teams in the Chicago area could duplicate.

Niles North scored 33 third quarter points, turning a 2-point lead into a 29-point advantage by midway through the fourth quarter in claiming an 84-58 nonconference victory over Hersey on Saturday in Arlington Heights.

Trailing 33-27 at halftime, Hersey (7-15) drew five quick fouls early on in the third quarter and went on a 6-2 run. A layup from Alex Mueller (10 points) brought the Huskies within 35-33 with 6:33 left in the quarter.

“Our pace really dictated it,” said Hersey sophomore point guard Max Heeren, who was assigned the difficult task of handling the constant ball pressure. “As soon as they would hit a shot, we were outletting and getting a quick bucket on the other end. In the third quarter, they started hitting some tough shots.”

After Quinn Orlandi (9 points, 9 rebounds) scored inside, Niles North (23-3) went on a 26-7 run that took less than four minutes off the clock. The Vikings shot 11-of-16 in the third quarter and 50 percent for the game.

“We try to get a fast-paced game going on and we didn’t really play at a great pace in the first half,” Nix said. “(In the third quarter) we were on the ball really hard and in the passing lanes, so that made it really difficult for them to get into their offense.”

Nix narrowly missed a triple-double, finishing with 20 points, 10 steals and 8 assists. And with the help of teammates JJ Myles and Harvey Penn, the pressure never stopped as the Huskies committed 23 turnovers, 21 of which were Viking steals.

“I like how we attacked their press, and I like how we attacked their pressure, even in the half court,” said Hersey coach Steve Messer. “I’m sure the turnover numbers are bad, but I feel like they are skewed because they came in flurries.”

“It was hard getting by those guys,” Heeren said. “When you did get by them, they had a second line of defense that was just as fast. They’re pressuring you full court the whole game.”

Hersey withstood an early flurry of 3-pointers as BJ Beckford (game-high 21 points, 9 rebounds) and Myles (16 points) each hit three in the opening half.

Behind Alex Sutrinaitis, who netted a team-high 16 points, and the playmaking of Heeren (6 points, 4 assists), the Huskies battled back from an early 9-point deficit and led 23-22 on a Sutrinaitis steal and layup.

“With the season winding down, it’s a good test to play a really good team heading into our regional,” Sutrinaitis said. “We know we can keep pace for two and a half quarters. We just have to do it for four quarters.”