Boys Basketball: Aurora Christian’s Harrell hitting his stride
By Rick Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org February 17, 2013 5:34PM
Johnathan Harrell of Aurora Christian tries to work through the tight defense of Jordan Glasgow (right) of Marmion. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Game 1 — (4) Westmont vs. (5) Lisle, 6 p.m.
Game 2 — (3) Aurora Christian vs. (6) Somonauk, 7:30 p.m.
Game 3 — (1) Immaculate Conception vs. Game 1 winner, 6 p.m.
Game 4 — (2) St. Edward vs. Game 2 winner, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7:30 p.m.
Updated: March 19, 2013 6:23AM
Johnathan Harrell may not do it all for the Aurora Christian basketball team but he does a little bit of everything.
The 6-foot-3 junior guard is second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.8 points-per-game. He leads the Eagles in rebounds and steals with averages of 6.1 and 1.8, respectively, averages 2.0 assists and while he’s shot only the fourth most 3-point field goal attempts on the team, he’s making a team-best 57.5 percent — 27 of 47 — of them.
“I think he’s coming into his own. The last seven or eight games, he’s played very well,” said ACS coach Pat McNamara, whose 16-11 team enters this week’s Westmont Class 2A Regional seeded third among five teams.
“Johnathan can shoot, pass and handle the ball. He’s got good skills and is one of our players who focuses primarily on basketball.”
The first-year Eagles’ coach and his team were behind early in the season with several regulars — Cory Windle (12.5 ppg), Ryan Suttle (10.1 ppg), Ryan McQuade (9.8 ppg) — playing key roles in the ACS football team’s second straight run to a state championship last November.
Harrell was back for the start of preseason, but missed the team’s summer workouts due to a freak knee injury that required surgery last spring in the school cafeteria after being pushed from behind. He had qualified days earlier for two events at the state track meet and was unable to compete in Charleston.
“He was on crutches through the end of June,” said McNamara, “but he’s come back and played very well.”
The Eagles open against sixth seeded Somonauk (12-15) in Monday night’s second quarterfinal, preceded by Interstate Eight rivals No. 5 Lisle and the No. 4 hosts. The top two finishers in the Suburban Christian Conference’s Gold Division, Immaculate Conception (20-5) and St. Edward (20-7), are seeded 1 and 2, respectively.
“We’ve been playing well lately and sharing the ball real well,” said McNamara, whose team finished the regular season with a 50-45 win over Walther Lutheran on Friday.
“We were down by four in the fourth quarter but Windle had a good game with 21 points and 12 or 13 boards,” said McNamara. “And we got some clutch free throws from sophomore West Wolfe. We were up one with about 14 seconds left when he got fouled. Normally, you want to keep the ball in your seniors’ hands in that situation but he had it and he hit ‘em both. That was good to see.”
The Eagles have not faced Immaculate Conception, which has won 20-plus games for the second straight season, but split a pair of games with St. Edward. ACS lost in early December then came back Feb. 9 to win 83-44.
McNamara doesn’t want to look past Somonauk.
“They’ve got a nice player in their point guard (John) Wathan who is averaging (15.2 points) and (junior) Reece Bode does a nice job on the boards (averaging 9.2 rebounds),” he said.
“If we do get to St. Ed’s, we have to remember, the last time we played them it was one of those rare games you occasionally have where all the shots were falling. We hit over 60 percent from behind the arc (and St. Edward made just 1 of 18).
“Plus, one of their top guys was in early foul trouble and spent a lot of time on the bench. I don’t think that score was indicative of the talent level they have.”