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Despite a slow first-half shooting start that included a 0-for-9 slump from 3-point range, Batavia basketball coach Jim Nazos remained confident things would change in the second half Wednesday afternoon.
He was right.
Senior guard Jake Pollack helped jump-start the offense with a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, and junior guard Micah Coffey connected on back-to-back 3-pointers during the first 2 minutes of the fourth period, as the Bulldogs (4-7) rallied for a 50-36 victory over Chicago-Harlan (3-5) in the opening round of the 38th annual Elgin Holiday Tournament.
After Coffey and Pollack combined to make just 1 of 10 field-goal attempts in the first half, Nazos was hoping his backcourt players would have a short memory when they came out to start the second half.
"I know Micah had a struggle in the first half shooting the ball and so did Jake but shooters kind of stay with things," said Nazos. "They're (Harlan) a team that is going to be doubling the ball so somebody is going to be open.
"You can't not shoot it," added Nazos, whose team will face Rockford East in Thursday's quarterfinals at 5 p.m. "You've got to stay arrogant, I guess."
With his team ahead by 5 at 29-24 after 3 quarters, Coffey enjoyed a red-hot fourth period when he drained both of his 3-point attempts and all 8 of his free throws during the Bulldogs' 21-12 closeout.
"In the first half, everything was just a little short," said Coffey, who scored 14 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter. "With an early game (12:15 p.m. tipoff), the legs weren't woken up yet but everything was on. I could tell the ball was coming out of my hands nice."
Coffey credited Pollack's early third-quarter outside shooting for his later success.
"Jake coming out and being able to hit a couple threes really spread out their defense and allowed us to get more open looks," said Coffey.
While the 38-point second-half barrage was nice to see, Nazos was equally impressed with his team's defensive effort, especially in the first half when the Bulldogs managed just 12 points but trailed by only 2 at 14-12.
"I thought we did a solid job defensively keeping the game real tight until we were able to have something happen offensively for us in the second half," said Nazos. "We started hitting some shots and then we got a little extra bounce in our step."
Pollack had 8 points for the Bulldogs, while Zach Strittmatter and Luke Horton added 6 points apiece. Horton also collected a team-high 8 rebounds.
Andre Hogan paced Harlan with 16 points.
"They're a team that just came back from one of the top tournaments in the United States — playing in the (Jerry) Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas," Nazos said of Harlan. "They were 3-0 until they went to that tournament with teams like Mater Dei (Calif.) and Bishop Gorman (Nev.)."
Nazos was pleased with his team's first-round victory.
"I've seen this tournament for a lot of years," said the coach, who used to bring his Wheaton North teams to Elgin over holiday break. "It's a great tournament."