Harvest Christian turns out the lights on Alden-Hebron
Early in the second quarter in the boys basketball game between Alden-Hebron and host Harvest Christian Friday night, Lions' guard Austin White stole the ball at half-court and went the other way for an uncontested layup. Then the lights turned out, stopping play.
While the outage was quickly restored it was symbolic of the play of the Lions in the game. Using three separate runs of at least 8-0, Harvest Christian sprinted out to an early lead and never looked back, dumping the Green Giants 67-37 for their first Northeastern Athletic Conference win.
After coming out "flat", according to coach Scott Cork, in a Tuesday loss against Rockford Christian Life, the Lions (8-8, 1-3) were up 4-0 when Alden-Hebron scored its first basket.
That's when Cork, seeing his players fall back to a half-court defense instead of a press, called a 30-second time out with barely two minutes gone in the game.
"We were trying to do a press, and one guy kept falling back into half-court," Cork said. "I called the timeout to get them refocused. Once they got refocused, things just seemed to click and the press worked out for us really well."
That could be taken as an understatement as the Lions forced 7 turnovers in the first quarter, and 15 in the first half, and ripped off a 13-0 run that spanned nearly the entire quarter. They finished with a 19-7 lead that would only grow from there, thanks in large part to the play of senior Noah Fox.
Fox scored 12 points in that first quarter, hitting a pair of 3-pointers during the run, and seemed to be a ball magnet the rest of the game as well.
"When somebody steps up, it gets us all playing together. It gets us going," Fox said about his first quarter. "We play harder, we play better defense when one of us steps it up."
With a game-high 28 points, along with 3 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals, Fox was the leader on the floor Friday that Cork had hoped he would turn into all season long.
"At the beginning he wasn't being the leader, as a senior, as he should have been," Cork said about Fox. "Right now he's being a fantastic leader. He gets on the floor and puts his heart and soul on the court. Sometimes I think he tries to overdo it, not realizing his team is with him."
Fox's team certainly was with him Friday, with nine total players scoring for the Lions, with Drew Fugiel leading the way with 7 points off the bench.
Fugiel had the final 5 points in the second quarter, stopping a mini 5-0 run for the Green Giants (5-7, 1-2) right before half, giving his team a 34-14 advantage.
It was more of the same in the second half, with Fox finding the basket (12 points in the second half) and his team causing turnovers (10 in the half) to generate offense. Harvest Christian took a 48-24 lead into the third quarter, going up by as many as 32 before ending the game with a 30-point lead.
White would finish with 6 points along with Lucas Bandy and Chad Jakel.
With the conference season looming large, Cork knows wins like Friday's, while nice, won't be the norm in a tough conference.
"We just need to focus on playing game by game and everyday getting better and better each week," he said.