Harvest Christian blocks ACC in 3rd-place game at Elgin

Playing its fourth game in as many days, Harvest Christian’s basketball team dug deep at the right time Saturday night.

Holding onto a 2-point lead in the final minute, the Lions (12-7) knocked the ball out of bounds on Aurora Central Catholic’s first opportunity to tie the score with 7.2 seconds remaining.

Moments later, senior forward Caleb Callahan came up with the defensive play of the game, blocking the Chargers’ tying attempt with 0.3 seconds left, sealing the Lions’ 48-46 victory in the 3rd-place game of the Elgin Holiday Tournament at Chesbrough Fieldhouse.

“That was super clutch,” Lions senior Kaden Meeker said of Callahan’s block.

Meeker, who finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds, gave the Lions a 44-39 lead on his 3-point play with 6:27 remaining.

Chargers junior guard Bernard Fellows responded with a 3-point play of his own on the next possession, helping whittle the margin to 44-42, setting up a frenetic final 4 minutes.

“It’s a credit to our guys’ character,” Chargers coach Josh Izzo said of his team’s comeback from a 14-point deficit midway through the second quarter. “They wanted it bad for each other. Our guys battled back and played together.”

Freshman guard Elijah Bell paced the Lions with 17 points, hitting his first four 3-point attempts in the opening quarter. He added his fifth 3-pointer in the third quarter.

“My boys – they’ve been working hard this season up to this point,” said Lions coach Lafayette Bell. “They’ve been battle-tested. We’ve had a tough schedule.

“They’ve learned how to fight through adversity, so I’m very proud of them.”

JJ Gonnam contributed 14 points and 8 rebounds, while Callahan, celebrating his 18th birthday, added 9 rebounds and a pair of blocks, including the game clincher.

“It’s tough playing four games in four days, especially because we’re such a small school,” said Meeker. “You’ve just got to fight through it, and you’ve got to want it.

“This is our first year in this tournament – we’ve normally gone to the Marengo tournament. This was a good experience. It was a great atmosphere.”

Fellows finished with a game-high 21 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals for the Chargers (7-9), who opened the tourney with an overtime victory over defending tournament champion Shepard on Dec. 27.

“The game is starting to slow down for him a little bit,” said Izzo, who second-guessed his own coaching decision to call a timeout with 8.4 seconds remaining and his team trailing by 2 points.

“It’s one of those situations where do I call a timeout or not. Right at the moment, I saw chaos and thought we were going to turn it over, so I called a timeout. Then I realized maybe I shouldn’t have.”

ACC finished with a 2-2 mark and 4th-place showing in the tourney.

“We’re playing better these days,” said Izzo. “Turnovers are down, the defense has been playing better. We’re starting to turn the corner here.”

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