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La Salle-Peru boys basketball coach Jim Cherveny didn’t spread the blame around following Tuesday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference crossover game.
“I’ll take all the blame. We weren’t ready,” Cherveny said after the Cavaliers fell 69-63 in overtime to DeKalb. “We didn’t have a good start and really didn’t have a good finish. We weren’t prepared, and that’s 100 percent my fault.” The Cavs had no answer for DeKalb’s post tandem of Andre Lewis and Jake Smith in the first half.
The 6-foot-6 Harris scored 16 points in the first half — including eight second-chance points — and the 6-foot-6 Smith had eight points in the first 16 minutes as the Barbs took leads of 17-11 after the first quarter and 29-23 at halftime.
“Those two are nice players and, when they’re clicking together, they play very well,” Cherveny said.
The Cavs figured things out defensively at halftime, which allowed L-P to limit the post duo.
Harris only managed two shots in the third and fourth quarters — including a heave at the end of regulation — and scored only one point in the final two quarters of regulation.
Smith had six points in the third and fourth quarters.
“I thought we started doubling down from the wings a little better and just put a little bit more pressure on the basketball and made their guards make some decisions,” Cherveny said.
With Harris and Smith limited, the Cavs outscored the Barbs 18-11 in the third quarter behind 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting from senior Jens Soderholm.
L-P led 41-40 entering the fourth and held the lead until DeKalb’s Jake Carpenter sank a 3-pointer with 2:50 left.
Soderholm responded with a pair of free throws for a 51-50 lead, and the Cavs pushed it to 52-50 on 1-of-2 free throws from Brady Huebbe.
Smith tied the game with 1:04 left, and Rudy Lopez gave the Barbs a 54-52 lead on a fast-break layup with 13.4 seconds remaining.
Following a timeout, the Cavs ran the clock down before Soderholm hit a falling runner with 3.4 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
“Coach decided to give me the ball and see if I could score,” Soderholm said. “I scored, but it was a tough shot — tougher than I should have made it. I thought we had momentum going into overtime and we got a quick lead, but turnovers killed us.”
The Cavs grabbed a 59-54 lead 45 seconds into overtime on a pair of Noah Lamboley free throws and a 3-pointer by Huebbe.
However, the Barbs called a timeout with 3:12 left and then responded.
Harris split a pair of free throws, then had a dunk and layup off back-to-back turnovers to tie the game at 59-59.
Including Harris’ five points, the Barbs scored on their final eight possessions, including 6-of-6 free throws by Carpenter in the final 51.7 seconds.
The Cavs, meanwhile, shot just 2-of-7 down the stretch and missed a pair of free throws.
“I think we put ourselves in bad position to allow turnovers (in overtime),” Soderholm said. “We had long, slow passes or we allowed ourselves to get trapped. We just have to be quicker and more decisive.”
Soderholm finished with a game-high 30 points along with 15 rebounds, while Huebbe finished with 14 points and Lamboley added 12.
Harris led the Barbs (8-17) with 22 points and 15 boards. Smith had 16 points, Carpenter scored 13 points and Lopez added 12.
The Cavs (14-9) return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Ottawa with the NIB 12 West Division title on the line.
“Our kids will be ready to go 100 percent,” Cherveny said. “We have to have two good practices. We have to mentally prepare ourselves and get ready for a physical game because they’re going to come at us hard, and we have to be ready right from the get go.”
Note: The L-P sophomore team won 54-47. Luke Dresbach scored a team-high 17 points for L-P (17-4), while Huebbe added 14 points.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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