Men’s College Basketball: South Suburban defeat McHenry County in Region IV quarterfinal
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media February 27, 2014 10:00PM
Updated: April 1, 2014 10:21AM
South Suburban blew out McHenry County by 24 points in the teams’ lone regular-season meeting. Thursday night’s playoff match-up brought a similar final score, but was by no means easy for the Bulldogs.
No. 7 seed McHenry used a 17-3 surge midway through the second half to pull to within one point, but second-seeded South Suburban made all the big plays late to pull away for an 87-65 NJCAA Division II Region IV quarterfinal in South Holland.
“It’s always good to get the first playoff win out of the way,” South Suburban’s Antonio Levy said. “It wasn’t easy for us. It’s good to get a test and get used to how the playoffs are going to be.”
Levy (Thornton) and Anthony Strickland each scored 20 points to lead South Suburban (26-5), which will meet Oakton in a semifinal at 4 p.m. Sunday at Illinois Valley.
McHenry (6-23) fought back into the game with long-range shooting as Demarcus Vines (20 points) hit two three-pointers and Danny Glick one in a 3½-minute span before Nick Malonga (19 points, 5 rebounds) converted a four-point play to cut South Suburban’s lead to 49-48 with 12:17 to go.
Strickland, who’s normally a starter but has slumped lately and came off the bench, helped provide the answer, scoring six points as the Bulldogs countered with a 14-5 surge.
“It’s not all about starting,” he said. “It’s about how you finish. I just wanted to help the team win. We just had to keep our composure.”
McHenry failed to keep its composure, getting hit with four technical fouls over the final 9:19 to help turn the game into a runaway.
The Bulldogs may have been in more trouble if McHenry didn’t struggle mightily at the free-throw line, finishing just 18-of-34.
Korbin McClain had 14 points for the Bulldogs. Lavell Boyd added nine points and six rebounds, and Marius Hopkins (Crete-Monee) eight points.
“You can throw all the records out when the playoffs start,” South Suburban coach John Pigatti said. “They came in and shot well.
“(Strickland) has been through the national tournament. His experience really showed and was big for us.”