Harvest Christian falls to top seed
The chalkboard before the game in the Harvest Christian locker room read "shock the world."
Shockwaves weren't felt in parts of China and Europe, but at Wednesday's Class 1A boys basketball regional semifinal at Westminster Christian against top-seeded Hinckley-Big Rock, the Lions put together a groundbreaking performance that could have had some ground shaking in Elgin.
A determined Harvest trailed by as many as 11 points in the second quarter but put together an 8-4 run in the last 4 minutes to make it a 7-point game at halftime.
But that's as close as Harvest would get. The Lions, who threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Royals, but H-BR came away with a 44-33 win over the Lions to advance to Friday's regional championship game against No. 2 seed Mooseheart a 45-30 winner over Westminster in Wednesday's second semifinal.
Harvest was without Josh Vislisel and his 13 points and 8 rebounds per game due to a back injury.
The score however does no justice for the Lions, who played superb defense and kept one of the best teams in 1A under 45 points and to 13-for-48 shooting.
On their behalf, 12 of 44 shooting just wasn't going to get it done but if a couple more layups and jumpers fall, Harvest might have been Cinderella.
"Those guys gave 100 percent beyond and above what we've seen all year," said Harvest coach Jeff Boldog. "Before the game I said, 'you just got to give 100 percent for all 32 minutes and you can walk off this court with your head held high.' I think it was only a 5 or 7-point game at halftime. We had a couple turnovers and they got hot at the 3 and we missed so many easy bunnies. They were nervous bunnies, it was their first regional semifinal game."
Kyle Fritz scored 6 of his team-high 12 points in that second quarter run, as he seemed like the only Lion who could get the ball through the lid that was planted on Harvest's hoop. That was even with a 36-24 Harvest advantage on the boards including 11 offensive rebounds.
But Harvest (17-11) coughed the ball up 20 times and had a hard time dealing with the Royals' full court man-press in the third quarter, when Harvest came out rusty and the Royals seized the game with a 7-0 run. Hinckley-Big Rock was led by Bernie Conley's 17 points and 5 steals.
"That really killed us," Fritz said of Hinckley's man-to-man press, as Harvest was held to 6 points in the third. "We knew we were underdogs coming in. When we saw we could hang with them, we just got real nervous and lost our composure there a little bit."
Harvest's Noah Fox was held scoreless but grabbed 12 rebounds. Dan Turpin added 8 points and 9 rebounds.
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