ROCKFORD – DeKalb already was in a bad spot to start the fourth quarter, down seven points to Belvidere North.
On top of that, Barbs point guard Rudy Lopez picked up his fourth foul a minute into the quarter, and big man Andre Harris was called for his fourth with six minutes left in the game.
However, DeKalb responded in a big way. The Barbs scored 18 points in the final period on their way to a 55-52 win in a Class 4A Rockford East Regional quarterfinal.
Leading the DeKalb comeback were the two players who looked like they might finish the game on the bench, Lopez (18 points) and Harris (16).
Lopez, only a sophomore, played the entire fourth despite picking up his fourth foul so early in the quarter, though he didn’t expect to be on the floor for the final seven minutes.
“I was really surprised,” he said. “I thought [coach Dave Rohlman] was going to take me out.”
Rohlman’s confidence in Lopez never wavered, and he watched the sophomore drop nine points in the fourth. Lopez knocked down four big free throws in the final minute of the game, including two front ends of one-and-one situations.
Rohlman doesn’t really look at his point guard as a sophomore this late in the year.
“He was the general of the offense tonight and he did what he was supposed to do,” Rohlman said. “I’m not surprised. We’ve seen it coming. The last month or so he’s played like that most of the time. I’m just happy for him, that he got the opportunity to knock down those free throws.”
Harris gave Belvidere North (8-21) a tough time in the post as the Barbs (8-22) made an emphasis to get the ball inside. He played disciplined with the four fouls, and scored five points in the final period despite sitting out about 2 1/2 minutes.
“Harris was was really big. He was really big tonight,” Lopez said. “On the boards, and scoring inside.”
Justin Love added eight points for DeKalb, with Michael Pollack finishing with five in reserve roles.
The Barbs will take on top-seeded Rockford Jefferson in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. today.
“They’re very quick,” Rohlman said of the J-Hawks. “I just think that we have to adjust to their quickness. ... They’re going to bring some pressure, obviously, and we’re going to have to be able to handle the basketball with the pressure [tonight].”