After facing a daunting schedule through its first six games, the Harper College men's basketball team came out flying in Tuesday's night's 73-56 nonconference home win against College of Lake County at the Sports and Wellness Center in Palatine.
"We needed a win," said Harper coach Tony Amarino.
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Sophomore Garett Gatz (Conant) and freshman guard Tyler Gaedele (Rolling Meadows) were the Hawks' offensive sparkplugs early, while Connor Miklasz (Hersey) helped lead the way at the defensive end by slowing down Lancers ballhandlers such as Dan Ryan (Libertyville). The pass-first freshman guard finished with 5 points for College of Lake County (3-4).
"We are a tough defensive team -- that's our prioity," Gaedele said.
"Defensively (Harper) forced us into turnovers," said Lake County coach Chuck Ramsey, who is starting a new chapter in his coaching career after a total of 37 illustrious years coaching at Warren High School in Gurnee. In his 19 years as head coach, the Blue Devils finished 403-142.
CLC was able to achieve some positives on offense, as the Harper foursome of Stefan Vucicevic (Hersey), Michael Rose (Rolling Meadows), Michael Trachsel (Prospect) and Brandon Kase (Schaumburg) had trouble stopping Jerry Gaylor (Grant), who displayed a nice inside-out game on his way to a team-best 18 points.
With Harper (2-5) leading 17-11, the Lancers produced a nice 5-0 burst keyed by freshman forward Dmetrious Bankhead (5 points) and Karl Nettgen (Antioch, 7 points) to take their only lead of the game at 17-16 with 9:19 reamaining in the first half.
Gaedele capped the half with 6 of his game-high 19 points to stake the Hawks to a 36-26 halftime lead.
"The first couple of games, I struggled with my shot," Gaedele said. "It got better as the game went on."
"Tyler is a player -- he's a very good shooter," Amarino said. "When he lets the game come to him, he is going to be a real good player."
In the second half, the Hawks started quickly again and protected the lead they'd earned. Despite bursts of scoring at the beginning of each period, Amarino is hoping the Hawks stick with a more methodical approach to scoring.
"We have to play our way," he said. "We are really not going to run it up and down and fly."