The Knights (29-2, 14-0) never trailed and beat the Eagles 85-49 to win the Metrolina Athletic Conference tournament championship Friday at Covenant Day School.
“The guys came out focused and determined tonight and we got out to a good start and just kept playing,” said Northside head coach Byron Dinkins.
Northside was also the regular season conference champion after going undefeated in the MAC.
Quick baskets in transition helped the Knights pull away early. Active defense forced turnovers that turned into easy points for Northside before the First Assembly (18-5, 11-3) defense could get set.
“We just wanted our defense to be our offense,” Dinkins said. “Before they get set, we get into transition and let our athletes be athletes.”
Northside jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game and finished the first quarter up 20-12. The Knights opened the second quarter with a 17-5 run to go ahead by 20 points.
Northside outscored First Assembly 30-11 in the second quarter and took a 50-23 lead into the half.
The Knights continued to pull away with transition baskets in the third quarter.
During one stretch in the third quarter, Northside scored six unanswered points on a transition layup by junior Addison Holmes, a dunk by junior James Demery after a steal, and another Demery dunk after senior Luke Morrison’s blocked shot.
After three quarters Northside led 68-33. The Knights outscored First Assembly 17-16 in the final period.
Demery led all scorers with 21 points. Morrison added 19 for the Knights.
First Assembly junior Nate Cantadore led the team with 13 points. Senior Stefan Fundic scored 11 and senior Kriston Beasley had 10 for the Eagles.
Dinkins hopes the win gives his team momentum as it tries to defend its N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 2A state championship next week.
“Conference is what it is, but now we’ve got to refocus … and get ready for next week,” Dinkins said. “We’re in a good frame of mind right now. I like where they’re at.”
By Corey Inscoe