It was rivalry week for the Harper men’s basketball teams — for the fourth time this season.
The No. 4-seeded Hawks were due to meet longtime rival College of DuPage, the No. 5 seed in the NJCAA Region IV tournament.
The series went in favor of the Chaparrals 3-1, as COD earned a 79-69 victory Wednesday in a first-round matchup.
The Chaps (13-18) advance to Saturday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against top-seeded Joliet Junior College.
The visitors from Glen Ellyn looked nervous early, as College of DuPage turnovers on its first three possessions. But the Hawks (13-17) were unable to fully capitalize while grabbing a 9-5 lead.
“We got too excited and didn’t get good shots,” said Harper coach Tony Amarino.
COD settled down and went on an 8-0 run to take 13-9 lead.
“I like the way my sophomores played,” said COD coach Don Klaas, who is now in his 35th season guiding the Chaparrals.
None of Klaas’ sophomores played a bigger role then 6-foot-5 Jake Martin (West Chicago), who scored 13 of his team’s 33 first-half points.
Fellow frontcourt man Ryan Rader (Willowbrook) was also plagued with foul trouble. He picked up his third foul with 18:45 left in the game.
“The last four or five games he (Rader) has played really well,” Klaas said of the 6-foot-7 freshman.
Harper had its own foul problems as 6-5 backup freshman forward Eric Porter (Lake Zurich) got his third foul with 6:16 left in the first half.
Klaas did not seem to mind the game’s physical nature.
“I don’t think the physical play hurt (either team) one bit,” he said.
Martin made his first 8 free throw attempts.
“When he’s on the line, I feel good,” Klaas said of the 75 percent free throw shooter. “The game plan was to get the big men going.”
“I just played with a lot of intensity and energy,” said Martin, who scored a game-high 27 points, including 13 in the first half.
Klaas was pleased with Martin’s second half. “I thought he really stepped it up the second half,” he said.
COD also executed its defensive strategy flawlessly.
“The game plan was to take away the rhythm of their 3-pointers,” Klaas said.
The Hawks hit 6 3-pointers, four in the first 20 minutes.
COD tried to limit the offense of Garett Gatz (Conant) and Tyler Gaedele (Rolling Meadows).
“If they hit those rhythm 3s, they’re going to beat you” Klaas said.
“They were face-guarding me,” Gaedele said of the Chaparrals’ defense. “That’s something they had done in previous meetings. It’s hard to run your offense like that.”
Amarino felt the Hawks forced the issue a little bit.
One player who helped keep the Hawks in the game was sophomore John Lorenz (Elk Grove), who finished with 14 points, eight in the second half.
“I just had a mindset I was going to score,” Lorenz said.
With four minutes remaining, Mark Penezak hit a big 3-pointer to give DuPage 67-62 lead.
Klass knew his team had all the momentum.
“We got it going down the stretch.” he said. “We have to play a smart game (against JJC).”
The Region IV championship game is slated for 2 p.m. Sunday at Harper.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.