Raeshaun Samoa is not officially the tallest player on North Chicago. That distinction belongs to 6-foot-8 junior forward Achan Clinton.
Unofficially, the 6-6 Samoa can be classified as the tallest player — if you count his hair.
“Yeah, because my hair, I’m the tallest,” Samoa said of his slanted hi-top fade with brown tips.
On the court, Samoa also played big Friday night. The junior forward had 24 points, 13 rebounds and five slam dunks to spark North Chicago to a 72-49 win over Ridgewood in the Class 3A Elmwood Park Regional title game.
The second-seeded Warhawks (19-8) won their 10th regional title in the last 11 seasons, advancing to play third-seeded Carmel at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a North Chicago Sectional semifinal game. The Corsairs defeated Wauconda 47-32 on Friday.
Dyshawn Gales added 18 points for the Warhawks.
After scoring 16 points in North Chicago’s loss to St. Viator in a sectional final last season, Samoa produced his best effort of the season Friday, according to North Chicago coach King Coleman.
“Basically, when Samoa steps up his game, we’re tough to beat,” Coleman said. “He has played two good games back-to-back. The harder he plays, the harder we go. He’s definitely the key to the team.”
Coleman pointed out that Samoa also is a focused student who takes all honors classes.
“School comes first for me, before basketball,” Samoa said.
Samoa received an A-plus for his work against the seventh-seeded Rebels (13-15). He set the tone by scoring on a putback on the second possession of the game. He opened the third quarter with two straight baskets to cap a personal 8-0 run that lifted the Warhawks’ lead to 35-19.
Samoa thrilled the North Chicago crowd with numerous highlight-reel plays in the final nine minutes. He closed out his scoring with a thundering one-handed dunk.
“I was motivated to do well because I just want to make it downstate,” Samoa said. “I was just trying to do everything I could do to help my team.
“We have a really athletic team, and we try and push the ball and that’s how most of my points came. I was just focusing on offensive rebounds, putbacks and to outlet the ball to my teammates and looked for open shots.”
Gales said Samoa sparked the Warhawks by attacking the boards and running the floor.
“We were feeding off his energy,” Gales said. “He fed off his intensity and then all of us played well.”
Bob Narang is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.