Tinley Park beats Ag. Science, sets up Hillcrest rematch

After surviving a late run by pesky Ag. Science to win 51-43 in a Class 3A regional semifinal on Wednesday, the Titans turn their attention to the rematch with rival Hillcrest on Friday.

Tinley Park’s Malachi Hay thorne (4) heads down the lane around Ag. Science’s Shawn Frison.

Tinley Park’s Malachi Hay thorne (4) heads down the lane around Ag. Science’s Shawn Frison.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

The pressure is off Tinley Park now.

After surviving a late run by pesky Ag. Science to win 51-43 in a Class 3A regional semifinal on Wednesday, the Titans turn their attention to the rematch with rival Hillcrest on Friday.

Playing the Hawks, who have state title aspirations, on their floor is as tough an assignment as there is.

But Tinley Park senior Nick Harrell is ready for the challenge.

“If we go out there with more heart than we did the first time we came out, we’ll definitely come out with the win,” Harrell said.

Hillcrest beat Tinley Park 78-62 in the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 21.

“You know what you’re gonna get [from the Hawks],” Titans coach D.J. Brown said. “We played them tough for maybe three quarters last time. So we game-plan. We know our stuff, we know their stuff. We’ll plan accordingly.”

What has to change for the Titans?

“We need to take care of the basketball,” Brown said. “They feast on turnovers. Their defense is the best offense so we’re going to need to hone in on protecting the ball.”

“We’ve got to play smart,” Harrell said. “You’re not going to beat them athletically, you’re not going to beat them in a foot race.”

On Wednesday, Harrell took care of business on the offensive end in particular.

The 6-6, 205-pound guard hit his first five shots and finished with a game-high 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting.

“We’ve kept on Nick to be more assertive offensively,” Brown said. “He’s a great defensive player but he’s got the skill set to be explosive offensively. Tonight he showed that.”

Amarion Johnson, a 6-7 junior, added 15 points. And 6-7, 285-pound Tony Reed was dominant defensively all night. He grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked six shots.

“His presence is really impactful,” Harrell said. “And it really helps the defense a lot.”

Tinley Park (14-13) led 11-5 after one quarter and 19-7 at halftime before the pace of the game picked up. The Titans lengthened their lead to 45-25 with 3:37 left in the game and were up 47-28 when Ag. Science’s offense came to life.

The Cyclones (18-9) scored 12 straight points to pull within 47-40 with a minute left and got within seven again at 50-43 but the Titans ran out the clock.

Justin Sadder hit four three-pointers in the final 5:12 to finish with 16 points for the Cyclones. Shawn Frison added 11.


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