Rolling Meadows falls despite Nikolich-Wilson's big night
Rolling Meadows' Mark Nikolich-Wilson opened some eyes at Glenbrook South Saturday night.
The 6-foot-7, 270-pound senior center was going up against Moline's 6-8 Owen Freeman who will be playing at the University of Iowa next season.
Nikolich-Wilson scored 19 points and had six rebounds in the Mustangs' 72-53 loss to the Maroons at Glenbrook South's inaugural Battle of the Titans shootout.
"I like everything about him," said Moline coach Sean Taylor. "He can score and he passes well. He is a great high school player. I have a lot of respect for him and I told him that after the game."
"Mark went up against Freeman and held his own," said Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich. "He didn't back down and at times he carried us. I'm very proud of him. He is underappreciated. He has worked so hard to get to the point where he is today."
Moline struck early and often against the Mustangs who fell to 21-4.
Freeman (25 points, 10 rebounds) worked well with fellow Iowa recruit Brock Harding (26 points, 5 assists) in breaking out to a 22-6 lead after one quarter. Freeman scored 12 points and Harding 5.
The Mustangs turned the ball over five times in the quarter which the 22-3 Maroons converted into 9 points.
Rolling Meadows played even in the second quarter and trailed 36-20 at halftime.
An early third quarter 10-4 surge saw Moline up the score to 46-24 with 5:08 left. Treyvon Taylor scored four points.
Cameron Christie scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter. Ian Miletic added 7 for the Mustangs.
"We had to work hard on defense and try to stop Christie," said Harding. "Our plan was to run as much as we could. Our bigs did a great job going up and down the court."
Harding broke his school's record for scoring with their win over Rock Island Friday night. The 26 points that he scored put him over the 1,700 mark.
The Mustangs shot 23 of 57 from the field while the Maroons connected on 32 of 52.
"We didn't execute our game plan like I had hoped," said Katovich. "But that starts with me."
"I've worked hard on my body," said Nikolich-Wilson. "I know I need to lose more weight. I weigh 270 but if I could get to 240, I could be better with my moves than I am now. I've become faster and more athletic now. Before the season is over I want to be able to hang winning banners in our gym."
"Mark loves basketball," said Katovich. "From when he started as a freshman til now is like night and day. I've never seen a player make a huge leap like he's done."