CRYSTAL LAKE – Trailing by 10 points entering the fourth quarter, Crystal Lake Central knew it was time to give Harlem a heavy dose of Alex Timmerman.
Central’s 6-foot-9 senior forward scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers couldn't catch the Huskies. Harlem held on, 58-53, to defeat the Tigers in the Class 4A Crystal Lake Central Regional championship game Friday.
“We knew that that was our advantage tonight,” Central coach Rich Czeslawski said. “And [we] asked him to carry the load. And he did a good job. He played like a man tonight.”
In addition to his 33 points, Timmerman pulled down 13 rebounds. He shot 13 of 15 from the field, most of those buckets at the rim.
“[The Huskies] were just looking to front, so I just sealed,” Timmerman said. “[We’d] reverse the ball and just lob it over them.”
When Central cut Harlem’s lead to four with less than four minutes remaining, the Huskies’ David Williams drained back-to-back 3s. He scored a team-high 25 points, including six 3s.
“I knew, in their house, it wasn’t going to be that easy,” Harlem coach Mike Winters said. “We knew they were going to hang around and make their run. And they did.”
For Harlem, the win advances it to Wednesday’s Rock Valley College Sectional semifinal against South Elgin. It also marks the school’s first boys basketball regional title since 2002, and second since 1975.
Timmerman had a notable size advantage inside. He scored seven quick points and Central (21-12) jumped out to a 14-7 first-quarter lead.
“We played loose; we had a good plan,” Czeslawski said. “Our kids executed it, and we were having fun. And then we let them get away from us a little in the second and the third [quarters]. We had trouble putting the ball in the basket.”
Harlem (20-11) went ahead by three points at halftime, then caught fire in the third quarter. The Huskies moved quick in transition.
“The Timmerman kid is a load,” Winters said. “We had no answer. Luckily we were able to speed the game up for a period there and take him out of it. They did a nice job of going back to him in the fourth quarter. We just had to fight and hold on.”
Central’s Lucas Seegers, Will Welder and Evan Cassell each scored five points. C.J. Lerum added three points. All were seniors playing in their final game.
“These are all my boys,” Timmerman said of his nine senior teammates. “I love every single one of them. It’s been a blast playing with them. Since third, fourth grade, we’ve always played with each other. It’s been really fun to play for the last 10 years.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Crystal Lake Central, sr., F
In his final high school game, Central’s 6-foot-9 forward scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. In the second half, he made his first seven shots from the field, but Central’s comeback effort fell short.
87: Timmerman shot 87 percent from the floor, making 13 of 15 field goal attempts, including two 3s. He shot 5 of 9 from the free-throw line.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Central graduates 10 seniors, including all five starters.
Harlem 58, Crystal Lake Central 53
CL Central 21 7 10 15 – 53
Harlem 14 16 17 10 – 58
CL CENTRAL (53): Seegers 2 0-0 5, Welder 2 0-0 5, Cassell 2 0-0 5, Lerum 1 0-0 3, Timmerman 13 5-9 33, Mendoza 1 0-0 2, Dungey 0 0-1 0. Totals: 21 5-10 53.
3-point goals: 6 (Timmerman 2, Seegers 1, Welder 1, Cassell 1, Lerum 1).
HARLEM (58): Renteria 2 0-0 6, Williams 7 5-6 25, Thomas 4 1-1 9, Tucker 1 1-3 3, Jones 5 0-0 10, Casteel 1 0-2 2, Jacobsen 1 0-0 2, Dieterle 0 1-2 1. Totals: 21 8-14 58.
3-point goals: 8 (Williams 6, Renteria 2).