Nikolich-Wilson helps Rolling Meadows rout Deerfield
Rolling Meadows went to Beast Mode for a big nonconference boys basketball victory Saturday at Deerfield.
The Mustangs won 82-46, and though Marshawn Lynch wasn't in the house, Meadows had a pretty good stand-in with 6-foot-7 junior center Mark Nikolich-Wilson, according to coach Kevin Katovich.
"He's an absolute beast," said Katovich of Nikolich-Wilson. "We played one of our most complete games of the year, and it all started with Mark. When he plays like he did tonight, we're tough to beat."
Nikolich-Wilson posted a line of 15 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocked shots as Meadows won the battle on the glass by a wide margin.
"It starts as soon as the shot goes up," said Nikolich-Wilson of his approach on the boards. "You've got to find a man first, and then go get it.
"It's a big deal, because if you don't get that rebound, and don't get that two points, you miss an opportunity to score. So just not getting a rebound can be a four-point swing."
It wasn't just rebounding for the Mustangs in the win, however.
It was hot shooting as well, as evidenced by a game-high 25 points from junior Cameron Christie, and terrific defense as well.
The Meadows 'D' was paced by junior Foster Ogbonna.
"Their number 22 (Luke Woodson of Deerfield) is a great player and a tough kid," said Katovich. "He's a Division-I football prospect and a good athlete, and Foster did a really nice job on him defensively."
Meadows started a bit slow, but a big breakaway and dunk from Ian Miletic gave the Mustangs a lead midway through the second quarter.
Then Orlando Thomas made a steal and fed Christie, which led to 2 free throws, then Christie returned the favor with a steal of his own and a quick pass to Thomas.
Thomas hit 2 foul shots as well, and at that point the Mustangs were off to the races.
The visitors led 38-27 at halftime, but behind 3 third quarter 3-pointers by Christie and 2 more from Ogbonna, extended the lead after intermission.
And when Thomas tossed a perfect alley-oop to Christie for a layup near the end of the stanza, the advantage was 56-33 Meadows.
"Everyone played together. We all shot well," said Nikolich-Wilson. "I'd have to say that this was our best team effort of the year."
Junior guard Jaxxon Handy made the most of his playing time in the fourth quarter, coming off the bench to score 9 points, including a 3-pointer.
Ogbonna finished with 13 points and was strong on the boards as well with 7 rebounds, 5 of those coming in the first quarter.
Thomas scored all 10 of his points in the second quarter when the Mustangs took command of the game, while Miletic added 8 points.
"We just want to keep getting better," said Katovich, "and tonight we took another step forward. We've got some size, and our guards rebound really well too."