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Batavia revs up offense in second half

ELGIN – Everyone, it seemed, had trouble with timing during Wednesday’s Elgin Holiday Tournament first round game between the Batavia and Harlan boys basketball teams: players, game officials and fans.

Neither team could find much shooting rhythm during the first half. Both squads combined for only 10 baskets in the first 16 minutes. The Falcons led the Bulldogs at halftime, 14-12.

Even the timekeeper struggled to reset the clock at the end of the second quarter when the officials ruled that there were still 2 seconds to play when the ball went out of bounds.

Batavia got its offense in sync in the second half to defeat Harlan, 50-36.

“They woke up, and we didn’t,” Harlan coach Ervin Bryant said about his team, which played its first game since returning from last week’s Tarkanian Classic Tournament, held in Las Vegas, Nev. “We still have jet lag.”

“Micah [Coffey] struggled shooting the ball in the first half and so did Jake (Pollack),” said Batavia coach Jim Nazos. “We attacked more in the second half. We started hitting our shots and then we got a little extra bounce in our step.”

The Bulldogs’ defense, which kept the team in the game in the first half, continued to stymie Harlan (3-5) as the game wore on. The third quarter was the Falcons’ best, when they scored 10 points.

“We did a solid job defensively keeping the game real tight until we were able to have something happen offensively for us in the second half,” Nazos said.

“It was a good team rebounding game. They shoot a lot of perimeter shots where you get long rebounds that carom out,” Nazos said. “Luke [Horton] and Zach [Strittmatter] and Mike Carlson did a solid job rebounding.”

A Pollack three-pointer from the top of the key opened the third quarter and put the Bulldogs (4-7) temporarily on top, 15-14. He finished the game with eight points.

“It was nice,” Pollack said about the shot. “We needed a little momentum to get into our offense and we capitalized on it.”

Harlan’s Andre Hogan (16 points) tied the game at 22 with a short jumper halfway through the frame.

Coffey’s second three-pointer of the third quarter returned the lead to the Bulldogs at the 3:18 mark. His 3 triggered a 15-6 run that extended into the last quarter and gave Batavia a 37-28 lead with four minutes left in the game.

“First half, everything was a little short,” Coffey said. “Going into the second half we knew if we kept shooting, the ball will start falling in.” .

The Bulldogs didn’t score a basket during the rest of the fourth quarter but did sink 13 free throws as Harlan starting fouling to gain possession. Coffey, who led all scorers with 21 points, was a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line.

Taylor Brandt made the last two free throws for Batavia. A young fan started cheering even before Brandt’s first attempt bounced off the backboard and through the hoop.

Strittmatter and Horton both scored six points for the Bulldogs. Torian Pearson scored seven points for the Falcons.

Batavia will play Rockford East, 73-44 winners over Hoffman Estates, in the second round at 5 p.m. today. The Bulldogs finished fourth in last year’s tournament.

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