Crystal Lake Central tops Harvest in Marengo quarters
Harvest Christian is getting just what it wants from the 69th annual E.C. Nichols Holiday Classic at Marengo.
Being a small school in the field is fine with Lions coach Bryan Bradshaw. It was especially fitting in the quarterfinals Thursday when Harvest Christian went up not only against defending champion Crystal Lake Central but a team led by a 6-foot-9 center, senior Alex Timmerman.
The Lions came up short in a 78-64 loss as Timmerman scored a game-high 25 points, but they competed and hopefully helped themselves for the second half of the season.
"I like the level of competition," Bradshaw said. "For us being a smaller school to come here and play the teams we do we get challenged. You play bigger schools, bigger kids and it prepares you for the tournament later in the year."
Crystal Lake Central (8-4) advances to the semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday against Genoa-Kingston looking to repeat last year's tournament championship.
"We're getting used to having a target on our back," Tigers coach Rich Czeslawski said. "Everyone we play is going to have someone go off for a career night. Everyone is going to feel loose and have nothing to lose and those kids did a nice job of that. They played hard, they played aggressive, it was a fun game to watch."
The Lions (7-4) stayed close throughout the first half, trailing 21-17 after one quarter and then tying the game at 23 early in the second on Matt Ellett's 3-pointer.
Harvest took its final lead of the game moments later 29-28 on a 3-pointer from Payton Kasper.
Lucas Seegers hit 2 free throws to put the Tigers back on top, the start of a 14-5 run to close the first half with a 41-33 lead. Timmerman scored 6 points in the surge as the Lions played without leading scorer Jack Nohava who was whistled for his third foul on Seegers' free throws.
"It was neck and neck and then they extended it and got that cushion," Bradshaw said.
It didn't get any better in the third quarter for Harvest who turned the ball over six times in the first three minutes and nine times overall. Despite a couple 3-pointers from Nolan Boyce, Harvest trailed 59-48 going to the fourth.
"I think it was a result of us trying to respond too quickly," Bradshaw said. "We threw it right to them. We lost our brain for a second. When you play good teams and do that it's tough because they capitalize on it."
Boyce led the Lions with 22 points. Ellett scored 12 and Nohava 11. Harvest will place Rochelle at 3 p.m. Friday.
"Nolan hit some big shots," Bradshaw said. "Each guy did something different for us to keep us in the game and that's what we need more of going forward.
"Before the game we said we wanted to make it a dogfight. We knew we were playing a really talented team in Crystal Lake Central and we just wanted to make it as difficult as possible on them. I thought our kids responded well to that message and competed well."
Deonta Dungey came off the bench to score 17 with three 3-pointers for the Tigers, and Evan Cassell had 11.
"He's been playing pretty well for us since Thanksgiving," Czeslawski said of Dungey. "He gave us a spark early. Obviously teams key on Alex. For someone to hit 3s like that spreads them out."