West Lafayette was undermanned and outmatched, but the Red Devils assured Harrison a trip to the J&C Hoops Classic semifinals would be no easy task.
The Raiders got a battle, but ultimately advanced with a 52-40 victory Tuesday at Crawley Center.
Harrison (2-0) used a 34-16 advantage in the middle two quarters to earn a Friday matchup with three-time defending tournament champion McCutcheon.
“We finally picked it up and I think we did it by getting stops,” said Harrison junior Jack Mathew, who contributed 11 points and six rebounds. “The offense just came with that.”
It was seldom-used junior guard Konnor Wilson who supplied a spark against a scrappy Red Devils team.
Wilson hit a pair of 3-pointers 27 seconds apart late in the first half, turning a 15-14 deficit into a 20-15 lead.
“That’s two games in a row where he’s come in when we are not playing well and given us a lift by doing exactly what he is capable of doing, which is making some shots,” Harrison coach Mark Rinehart said. “That’s not easy to do when he doesn’t get to play a lot and then all the sudden it’s come in and make a shot when things aren’t going well.”
West Lafayette was without several of its most experienced players, who have not completed the required five practices to be eligible for games due to playing in the state football championship last Friday.
Without them, junior Charlie Nycz, an integral part of the team a year ago, stepped up as the go-to scorer.
Nycz matched freshman teammate Nelson Mbongo with a game-high 14 points.
What doomed the Red Devils (0-1) was 21 turnovers and a 5-for-16 performance at the free-throw line.
“The free throws hurt and when you get freebies, you’ve got to make them and 31 percent from the line isn’t going to get it done against anybody,” WL coach David Wood said. “We’re a young team, so we’re going to have some growing pains.
“They (Harrison) are hard to play against. They force you to do some things you don’t want to do when you have the ball and that took its toll some, but I was certainly pleased with our effort.”
Mathew’s 11 points and Alex Bauer’s six were part of a balanced scoring effort from the Raiders.
Bauer and Benito Munoz each scored eight points and Dominic Trapp added seven.
Still, Harrison couldn’t put away West Lafayette down the stretch.
The Raiders led 50-30 midway through the fourth before a 10-0 West Lafayette run.
“We’re like every team, still trying to figure things out,” Rinehart said. “There’s a point in the game where it’s 50-30 and it felt like we found our footing. It was a new situation of, can we finish off a game where we have a big lead. The answer was not yet.”