MADISON -- North Hall boys basketball coach Benjie Wood says his team -- above all else -- is simply having too much fun to stop now.
"These guys want to stay with each other; they're committed to the cause, and they love playing with each other," Wood said.
Keep playing like this, and the Trojans have plenty of time left together.
North Hall traveled to Morgan County on Saturday and pulled off a second half comeback to keep their state playoff drive and season going in a 50-46 victory in Madison.
The Trojans (27-3) trailed the Region 8-AAA champs 32-25 at the interval but fought back to knot the score at 36-36 at the end of the third quarter, allowing just four points in the period.
Once into the final eight minutes, North Hall proved too much, as Ebo Smith capped a 24-point night to help the Trojans march into the state quarterfinals for the first time since his freshman campaign in 2010. Adam Kelly also posted 15 points, while Avery Cagle added six and Griffin Olson four.
North Hall will move on to face St. Pius -- and will get a chance to do so on its home court -- as the second seeded Trojans will play host to the third-seeded Golden Lions on Wednesday.
"I can't put into words how I feel about these kids," Wood said.
North Hall came out determined to force the taller Bulldogs to settle for outside jump shots, and the Trojans did just that -- the only problem was that Morgan County proved up to the challenge. sinking four 3-pointers and several other long-range efforts.
The Bulldogs' hot shooting yielded a 15-10 first quarter advantage that stretched to seven points at the interval. Yet Morgan County (22-6) couldn't shake the Trojans, and its outside effectiveness turned frigid in the third quarter.
It was all the opening the Trojans needed.
North Hall scored 11 points in the third to draw even and then nosed ahead over the final eight minutes.
"The kids stuck with the gameplan, and they really gutted this one out," Wood said. "They put their heads down and just refused to lose."
North Hall held Bulldogs standout Tookie Brown to 11 points, while 6-foot-8 center Josh Sallette added eight points.