The first men's basketball game of the second semester at the junior college level can be full of surprises, as roster stability frequently becomes a challenge.
That was the case Thursday night at the Sports and Wellness Center in Palatine as freshman guard Tyler Gaedale (Rolling Meadows) and Kyoshiro Azumaya (Hoffman Estates) weren't in the lineup for different reasons.
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Harper coach Anthony Amarino inserted one of his veterans into the starting five in John Lorenz (Elk Grove).
Always a threat from behind the 3-point line, Lorenz made three of them and finished with 15 points to help Harper earn a 60-53 victory over Richard J. Daley College in nonconference play.
Harper (7-10) showed a fine shooter's touch collectively in the early going thanks to Garett Gatz (Conant), Connor Miklasz (Hersey) and Charles Wright, another player who was asked to fill in as a starter. They all collected buckets to help the Hawks grab a 9-0 lead.
Wright seemed to have all the answers on this night on his way to finishing with a team-high 16 points. Gatz finished with 14.
"Chuckie is a good player when he plays his game under control," Amarino said of Wright.
Control and tempo were a point of emphasis from Amarino to his players after the game.
"If we had played side to side (offensively)," he said, "I think we could have done a little more."
The Bulldogs (5-8) started to show their ability in the latter stages of the second half, scoring 4 of the game's last 6 points.
Gatz scored two of his 14 points to give his team a 35-24 lead into the intermission. The break did not take the fight out of the Bulldogs on this cold night as Daley used a 7-point spurt to trim the Hawks' lead to 38-31 with 16:28 left.
All Harper could muster before Daley's second-half run was a 3-pointer from Lorenz.
"Daley's a good team," Amarino said.
Harper was able to get the lead back into double figures until the game's waning minutes.
With 1:25 remaining, Daley's Ryan Burch was fouled and calmly hit a pair of freet throws. That cut the Hawks' lead to 56-51.
Burch finished with a team-best 12 points.