ROCKFORD -- A torrid start was all Westminster Christian needed. The Warriors roared out to a 19-2 lead and cruised past Harvest Christian, 63-43, in the first round of the Northeastern Athletic Conference boys basketball tournament here Friday night.
Will Woodhouse led the early surge, scoring 12 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter. Westminster made 7 of 8 3-point attempts in opening a 30-11 lead. Woodhouse hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 10-2, then Dillon Rejman came off the bench to knock down 3 trifectas.
Robert Kleczynski added 12 points and Colin Brandon 11 for Westminster (15-10). Aaron Wiewel had 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Warriors play host and top seed Rockford Christian Life in the semifinals today at 1 p.m. The winner will advance to the tournament championship at 7 p.m. Christian Life defeated Christian Liberty 75-51 Friday night.
The Lions switched to a box-and-one defense to try to slow down Woodhouse, to no avail.
"I thought we did a real nice job against the trick defense," said Westminster coach Bruce Firchau. "We have offenses designed for that and we worked on it again (Thursday)."
The Lions, missing 2 starters and some key reserves, finally got things going late in the second quarter and it carried over into the second half. Harvest won the second half, outscoring Westminster 26-22.
"We finally showed up," said Harvest coach Jeff Boldog. "We were just 16 minutes too late. You've got to come out strong against a team like Westminster."
Harvest, which will play Christian Liberty at 1 p.m. today in the consolation bracket, went from 15 turnovers in the first half to just 2 after intermission and shot 65 percent in the final 16 minutes after shooting 30 percent before the break.
Dan Turpin had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Harvest (14-8). Noah Fox scored 10 of his 12 points after the break. Stuart Wolff added 8 points, and Matt Borst grabbed 11 rebounds for the Lions.
Fox and Wolff each had 4 points during an 11-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters that got Harvest within 52-35. But a pair of 3-pointers by Brandon squelched the rally.