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updated: 2/26/2013 9:57 PM

Harper, COD to battle in Region IV tourney

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By Jonathan Cregier

In any sport, it's tough to beat any team three times in one season.

That is what No. 5 seed College of DuPage will try to accomplish at 7 p.m. Wednesday when it travels to the Sports and Wellness Center in Palatine to take on No. 4 seed Harper College in NJCAA Region IV men's basketball tournament quarterfinal action.

This marks the fourth meeting this season between the rival programs; COD (12-18) has won twice and Harper (13-16) once, in the first meeting of the season.

Still, the Hawks earned the higher seed, and for that reason, they get to host Wednesday'sgame. Harper coach Tony Amarino hopes it makes a difference.

"It's real big," Amarino said of playing on the tartan court at the Sports and Wellness Center. "We are comfortable at home. We shoot well at our place."

Team rebounding will be of the utmost importance for Harper, especially given COD's significant height advantage.

"We have to rebound," Amarino said. "The last two games, they have beat us (on the glass)."

In any case, the level of familiarity means neither team will be surprised by the opposition.

The Chaparrals prefer an uptempo game. Harper will ask point guard Connor Miklasz to distribute to shooters Tyler Gaedele (Rolling Meadows) and redshirt sophomore Garret Gatz (Conant). Gatz is coming off one of his best games, having scored 30 points in last Wednesday's 88-80 upset of Triton College.

"We will find the guys we have to hit shots," Amarino said.

That includes guards such as reserve sophomore John Lorenz (Elk Grove).

Because of the Hawks' reliance on the 3, Harper has been prone to scoring woes.

"When you're in a drought, you can't panic," Amarino said. "You have to run your offense better."

Harper's lone victory over COD was a 70-62 decision in the William R. Bear Classic Tournament in Freeport. Gaedale scored a team-high 16 points and shot 50 percent from the field.

Of the three matchups between the teams this season, no game has been decided by more than 9 points.

That's fitting, as this could be the most balanced NJCAA Region IV tournament in years.

"Of the 6 teams left, if any one of them wins it, I wouldn't consider it an upset," Amarino said.

Joliet (21-9) has earned the No. 1 seed and will play the winner of the Harper-COD game at 6 p.m. Saturday at Harper.

Rock Valley (16-14) is the No. 2 seed and will meet the winner of Wednesday's game between Milwaukee (13-16) and Madison (5-25) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Harper.

Whatever team is crowned Region IV champion after Sunday's 2 p.m. title game at Harper, it won't be an accident.

"Whoever wins it will earn it," Amarino said.

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