Harvest Christian runs past Christian Liberty

If racehorse-paced play, long-range bombing and fearless, unhesitant shooting could be trademarked, Harvest Christian's boys basketball team might be first in line at the U.S. Patent Office.

The Lions of the small-school Northeastern Athletic Conference let it rip Friday night at Christian Liberty in Arlington Heights and put on a show, but needed every bit of the production to hold off a tired, banged-up host team in a 52-39 win.

Harvest Christian took 20 3-point attempts, hit 8, all at crucial points of the game, and used their stingy 3-2 zone to limit their host's good looks (1 of 18 on 3s).

Freshman forward Ben Lothery had a trio of 3-pointers in the second half, as the Lions (12-9, 7-1) held off Christian Liberty's repeated attempts at runs to get back in the game. Junior swingman Matt Ellett had 12 points in his first game back from injury in 3 weeks and hit a pair of 3-pointers off the bench in the second quarter to help turn a 17-12 lead into a 30-20 bulge at halftime. He would add another crucial 3-pointer to quell a Chargers' run in the fourth quarter.

"This is his first game back," said Lions coach Bryan Bradshaw. "He's been a good teammate while he was out, helping out at practices. Those shots he hit helped give us some separation."

But it was all part of the fast-paced, fast-hands style that the Lions like. "I love it," said Bradshaw, who starts four underclassmen and sees a bright future. "I want us to get (the ball) and get out and go, see what we've got."

Starters Brandon Keeran and Daniel Doby combined for 13 points and along with Lothery, helped deny Christian Liberty second shots on most possessions, a key to the win.

Christian Liberty wasn't without its lethal threats, though. Point guard Titus Bennett had 11 points and constantly challenged the taller Lions inside. So did backcourt running mates Breckin Aiello and, off the bench, Mark Petrovici, whose fourth-quarter, fastbreak layup got the lead under 10 briefly.

And then Ellett did his long-range thing again.

But the Chargers were hamstrung when freshman starter and jack of all trades Tanner Aiello sat out the second half with a wrist injury, although coach Jed Bennett expects him to be OK for his tired team, playing a stretch of 4 games this week.

"We're definitely going to be ready," for upcoming games, he said.

Especially if they stay out of track meets with Harvest Christian.

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