ROCKFORD, Ill. — The Eastfield Harvesters advanced to the NJCAA Division III National Tournament semifinals after thrashing the No. 3 seeded Rhode Island Knights 93-74 Thursday night.
Dropped passes, stripped balls and blocked shots tested the Harvester offense early in the game, allowing the Knights to take a four-point lead.
However, after a short timeout, Eastfield recovered and reclaimed the lead. By halftime, they were up by 20 points.
“Intensity, defense, playing like some dogs, turnovers. Same thing we saw yesterday,” coach Anthony Fletcher said. “They couldn’t handle our intensity. At the end, they couldn’t handle the heat.”
The Harvesters scored 42 points off turnovers and by getting their bench into the action. Anthony Hunter led the scoring with 24 points while teammates Spencer Simes, Jamari Robertson, Geontay Davis and Tyler Jones also scored in double figures, combining for an additional 50 points.
“When you get on that court, it’s either us or them,” Hunter said. “And if anybody is in our way, we’re gonna beat them. When we play this game, we can play anybody.”
The second half was not very different as the Harvesters kept the Knights at bay through fast- paced play, intense defense and 32 forced turnovers.
The Harvester bench also made an impact, putting up 24 points in the game and adding more attacking options for the tired legs of the starters.
“We were loud on the bench,” guard Deavreion Parks said. “We put in the extra work, got some minutes and followed the plan just like coach said. That was important in a game like this.”
The Harvesters will take on No. 2 seeded Genesee Community College in the semifinals today at 7 p.m.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 4 seed North Lake defeated Onondaga 73-69, setting up a potential Dallas College final if the Blazers can beat No. 8 Rock Valley in their semifinal matchup.
“It’s big,” Hunter said. “We came out to Chicago to do a lot of big things. It’s life changing stuff, and I’m excited to see what we can do.”