Relentless TF North knocks off Hillcrest

T.F. North's Jalen Tribble (23) puts up a jump shot in the lane against Hillcrest. Worsom Robinson/ For the Sun-Times.

TF North senior Tariq Deere elevated for a massive, rim-rattling slam dunk in the second half of the Meteors’ 81-71 victory over Hillcrest on Friday in Calumet City.

Deere is just 5-11, so the high-flying attempt was a bit of a shocker. A Hillcrest defender got in the way, Deere cramped on the way up and hit the floor holding his leg.

It didn’t keep him out of the game for long. After a brief session with the trainer Deere was back on the court and on the attack. No. 20 TF North is relentless on both ends of the floor. Hillcrest never seemed to have a second to relax and gather itself.

“Coach is always on us about pressure, pressure, pressure,” Deere said. “We just listen to him and keep working. He told us to have heart, keep digging with everything you’ve got and that’s what we did. It’s pretty hard to tame us.”

It is the Meteors’ first win against Hillcrest in six years. TF North coach Tim Bankston was elated with the victory, he even danced a little bit in his chair as the clock ticked down to the final seconds.

“This has been the most fun I’ve had coaching,” Bankston said. “I raised these guys from puppies and now they are full grown dogs and they get after it. I can get on them, they don’t say anything. They can run all day, we do all the old school stuff. They don’t quit and you will never hear them complain.”

Deere scored 16 and grabbed seven rebounds. Coaches from Chicago State were on hand to watch him play.

Jalen Tribble led TF North (19-3, 11-0 South Suburban Blue) with 24 points and 7 rebounds. Jadacus Dixon was a major force with 16 points and 12 boards and Deere added 16 points and seven boards.

The Meteors beat Bogan back in November. That opened plenty of eyes, but Bankston isn’t surprised by their success.

“This team was 23-7 last year and they lost in the first round of the playoffs because of inexperience,” Bankston said. “There is no big formula, they play hard and get after you, five talented guys. Five guys that can score and put the ball on the floor, that causes problems for people.”

Hillcrest senior Marcus Garrett scored to cut TF North’s lead to 42-38 early in the third quarter. That’s as close as things would get.

“We knew how important this game was and if they even got a taste of the lead it could throw us off so we had to keep the pressure on constantly,” Tribble said.

Garrett led the Hawks (16-7, 10-1) with 22 points and five rebounds. Junior Robert Harvey had 15 points and nine boards and Jalen Hughes scored 19.

Hillcrest has won its conference (SICA Central or South Suburban Blue) for 28 consecutive years. The Meteors are now in first place, but both teams have a couple games to play.

“This win meant a lot,” Tribble said. “I’ve been in this program for four years and we always lost to them. “

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