North Chicago senior Simeon Henton grabbed the trophy and held it high over his head.
The Warhawks then posed for pictures and soaked in winning a regional championship.
Henton scored 18 points to lead the top-seeded Warhawks to a 59-42 victory in Friday’s Class 3A North Chicago Regional championship game against eighth-seeded Lake View.
“I’m just trying to take my team as far as I can take them,” said Henton, a Chicago State commit.
The 6-foot-3 guard helped North Chicago build a big halftime lead, scoring 13 points in the first half.
“Henton stepped up. This was one of the best games I’ve seen him play in a long time,” North Chicago coach King Coleman said. “He told me before the game that I would see a different Henton. And he proved that.”
Dyshawn Gales scored nine points for North Chicago (19-8), while Raeshaun Samoa and Terrell Grier both added seven.
The Warhawks will play at 7 p.m. Tuesday in an Antioch Sectional semifinal against the host Sequoits, 61-54 winners over Carmel in a regional final.
“I was proud of the kids,” Coleman said. “They worked hard. They played hard. They deserved the lead that they had. They worked hard to get that lead.
“The seniors did what they did. It was a great team effort on defense. They helped each other a lot on defense.”
Jaylin Brown scored 18 points to lead Lake View (13-16).
The Warhawks used a balanced approach to turn a close game into nearly a double-digit lead in the first quarter.
Ishaun Walker spun in the lane, stopped and then made a jumper to give North Chicago an 8-6 lead. The basket started an 11-2 spurt to close the first quarter.
Henton picked up four points in the sequence, one of five players to contribute scoring. The Warhawks scored the final seven points in the quarter to take a 17-8 lead.
“Coach gave us assignments on defense, and we stuck to those assignments,” Grier said. “We played together.”
North Chicago extended its lead by scoring the first six points of the second quarter. A free throw by Henton gave the Warhawks a 23-8 lead with 6:56 left in the first half.
The Wildcats got within 23-14, but North Chicago outscored Lake View 17-5 in the final 5:38 of the first half as Henton and Gales scored six points. Samoa added five points to help North Chicago to a 40-19 lead at halftime.
The Warhawks maintained the big lead in the second half, leading to the postgame celebration.
“It’s a big confidence booster for us, but we just have to stay focused,” Grier said. “I’m glad we could win for the community.”