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T.F. North’s D.J. Deere does his best to try to take positives from a disappointing junior season.
He has to do something to put last season’s 11-17 mark in the rear-view mirror.
“It was such a down year, but now we know how to play in certain situations,” Deere said. “Losing in the fourth quarter, that’s a drive for us to avoid. We’re practicing at it, and we’re used to it (overcoming).”
Making key plays down the stretch and with Deere hitting the game-winner in the final minute, T.F. North pulled out a 46-44 win Friday at Richards in a South Suburban crossover.
Deere had 19 points and Marquis Todd 11 for T.F. North (3-0, 3-0). Josh Meier led Richards (3-3, 1-1) with 20 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Deere’s late heroics came after a less than impressive start for the Meteors. A running and gunning Richards squad raced to a 10-0 and 14-2 lead just three minutes into the first quarter.
“We were overlooking them some so we had to pick it up,” Deere said.
Having slowed Richards offensively, T.F. North found itself in a 32-all game heading into the fourth quarter. The frame featured six lead changes, Deere providing the most important one.
Off a Richards turnover, the senior went up hard with 46 seconds remaining in the game, sinking a contested layup and drawing a foul. Deere drilled the free throw.
“It’s not really special, but I just had to hit (the layup) so we could take the lead,” Deere said. “We didn’t want to lose ... win at all costs.”
A double-teamed Cortez Harper (12 points) missed a pull-up jumper for Richards as the buzzer sounded.
“I’m proud of how we played,” Richards coach John Chappetto said. “T.F. North got physical. We knew they weren’t going to let us run them out of the gym. A couple of things just didn’t go our way, and we didn’t get a great shot at the buzzer.”