North Chicago guard Ishaun Walker gave coach King Coleman a big hug with a minute remaining in Tuesday’s Class 3A supersectional game.
The Warhawks were moments away from clinching a trip to Peoria.
“That was just love right there,” Walker said. “Love and happiness. It was a surreal moment.”
The 5-foot-11 senior scored a team-high 16 points as North Chicago defeated Boylan 69-55 at the Sears Centre.
With the win, the Warhawks (22-8) advance to the state semifinal for the first time since the 2011-12 season. North Chicago will play at 1 p.m. Friday against Springfield Southeast at Carver Arena.
“It’s basically a dream come true,” Walker said. “I’m just happy and ready for the ride.”
Walker turned it on in the second half Tuesday, scoring 10 points after halftime as the Warhawks pulled away.
“Walker is a coach’s dream,” Coleman said. “Every coach would love to coach players like him because he’s so competitive. He believes in what we tell him. If I tell him he has to climb on top of the wall to get the rebound, he believes it and he’s going to do it.”
Walker was one of four Warhawks to reach double figures in scoring.
Junior Quency Gilmore finished with 15. He gave the team a spark in the first half, scoring nine points.
“Quency is very hungry right now,” Coleman said. “What I saw out of him (Tuesday), that’s the type of player he is. He’s aggressive, he can rebound (and) he can defend. He’s a great player.”
Dyshawn Gales and Raeshaun Samoa added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Anthony Brown led Boylan (22-11) with 16 points. He scored the team’s final four points in the first half to get the Titans within 27-24 at halftime.
“At halftime, I told them we had to do a better job of boxing out, play some more pressure defense, be more patient on offense and attack the basket and we’d be fine,” Coleman said.
North Chicago did it all in the third quarter. Gales led the defensive effort as the Warhawks ended the quarter with an 18-3 run.
“We’re competitive and hungry and don’t want anybody to score on us,” Gales said.
Walker had six points, all from the foul line, during the run that gave North Chicago a 52-35 lead.
The Warhawks maintained the double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, paving the way for a postseason celebration that included selfies with fans.
“We put the city back on the map,” Gilmore said.