Boys Basketball: Josh Harris, Timothy Christian win matchup of 2020 state qualifiers

Harris scores 14 of his 20 points in first quarter of 74-60 win over Aurora Christian

ELMHURST – Prior to Friday’s tip-off between a pair of state qualifiers from last season, Timothy Christian honored senior Josh Harris, who recently joined the boys basketball program’s 1,000-point scoring club.

Once the Trojans’ game started against Aurora Christian, Harris showed plenty of his scoring moves, but just as important he flashed some great defensive prowess at the top of the Trojans’ nasty 1-3-1 zone defense.

The visiting Eagles, who went downstate last year in Class 1A before the pandemic ended their chance at a state title, scored the first eight points Friday but Timothy Christian (8-1) didn’t blink, closing the quarter with a 21-7 run on its way to a 74-60 Metro Suburban win over its rival.

Harris scored 14 of his 20 points in the first quarter as the Trojans erased their early deficit and went on to take a 35-24 at the break.

“We knew this was a big game and a big test for us tonight,” said Harris, a 6-foot-4 guard/wing player who committed to Illinois College last Christmas. “We knew they could shoot and when they came out and hit a few shots right away it was like they punched us in the face, but we came right back.”

A 3-pointer from Drew Meyers gave the visitors an 11-2 lead before Harris hit a 3-pointer and then ended up making six shots from the floor in the first quarter, including a steal and a dunk for a 17-15 lead. Timothy Christian had plenty of other offense on the night as Ben VanderWal finished with a game-high 24 points — 18 in the second half — and Ben Jones knocked down five 3-pointers on his way to 15 points.

“It’s hard to stop us when we’re running and shooting like that and getting stops,” said Harris, who helped the Trojans make it downstate last year in 2A, before they too had their season cut short by the same pandemic that will prevent a state tournament this year.

“We feel great right now, even though we know there’s no shot at a state title this year. So we’re going for the conference title now.”

For Aurora Christian, McCade Weber led the way with 18 points and Danny New added 16. The Eagles dropped to 5-2 on the year and are one game in back of the Trojans in the conference at 5-1.

“I knew their 1-3-1 was tough and with Harris at the top, you just don’t see that (strong a defense) very often,” Eagles coach Dan Beebe said. “We knew they were good. You had two teams that made it to state last year and when they shoot it like they did tonight they’re tough to beat.”