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There’s little debate regarding who’s Niles North’s most feared player in crunch time.
Malachi Nix, with a lightening-quick first step and the ability to score from anywhere on the court, has established himself as the star of the Niles North boys basketball team. The senior point guard is the player the Vikings regularly rely on to score in fourth quarters, but in Saturday’s 67-63 loss to Niles West, Billy Voitik proved that he too isn’t afraid of big moments.
Voitik collected 17 points in the second half of the back-and-forth game, including four field goals in the fourth quarter. While Voitik’s second half scoring output wasn’t enough to end the Wolves’ recent dominance of the Vikings, the 6-foot-4 senior’s performance showed that he shouldn’t be overlooked.
Voitik’s willingness to accept the responsibility of leading his team to victory is something the he said he developed as a quarterback.
“The mentality to win is just toughness from football,” said Voitik, who was Niles North’s starting quarterback in 2011 and 2012. “A lot of guys, in the end of the games when we’re down a couple points, they just want to give up and I keep trying to tell them that it’s not over and they’ve just got to fight until the end.
“I think I had a big leadership role on the football field. I had to pretty much lead our football team and ... that kind of (translates) to basketball. It helps me be more of a leader for basketball and help my teammates out because last year I didn’t have the biggest leadership role for basketball and this year I started to do that more.”
While Voitik is a complementary player on the Vikings’ basketball team, stepping up in crucial moments is something which Niles North coach Glenn Olson said is part of his personality.
“I think that’s just who he is,” Olson said. “He’s never been one of the guys; when people talk about Niles North basketball, they talk about Malachi Nix and a lot of people talk about Lorenzo Dillard ... Billy gets it. Billy’s been part of (last year’s Sweet 16) team and he knows what he’s doing.”
Voitik not only has the mindset to step up in big situations, he also has skill set to do so. The senior scored a career-high 19 points against Niles West by using his length, quickness and a delicate touch at the rim to consistently score in the paint.
“Billy rebounds really well,” said Niles West forward Alex Darville, who had to guard Voitik during stretches of Saturday’s game. “He always hits the boards; you always have to put a body on him or else he’s going to get it and score. He’s strong and he’s athletic.”~.