The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Girls Basketball: Harrisburg earns first Invitational title

  • Bulldogs hold off Eldorado 57-56 to claim first championship in 27 years
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  • When Harrisburg High School athletic director Jay Thompson presented the Bulldog girls' basketball team with the championship trophy from the Harrisburg Invitational Saturday night, Shelby Boer was the lone member that went out to receive the hardware.
    And rightfully so.
    Boer made one-of-two free throws with 7.4 to play in the fourth quarter to give Harrisburg a 57-56 lead that proved to hold up despite one last opportunity by Eldorado in the closing seconds.
    Boer finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double, helping Harrisburg close out the week 4-0 and grab the team's first title in the 26 years of the Invitational.
    Boer admitted there were some nerves on her part as she stepped to the line.
    "Yeah, I was nervous. I wish I would have made both, but I made the one and it was just one enough."
    Eldorado, who went 3-1 in the tournament, inbounded the ball and went the length of the floor before calling timeout with 2.0 seconds to play.
    Eldorado head coach Josh Bradley said the play he drew up was the one the Eagles got, it just didn't go according to plan.
    Kourtney Phillips got the inbound, but her shot was partially blocked, preventing any hope Eldorado had of pulling out the win.
    "We got exactly what we wanted," Bradley said. "We took a dribble out, the girl got a piece of it, instead of catch and shooting, but we got the shot we wanted, we just didn't execute at times tonight."
    Harrisburg head coach Jake Stewart said during the time out, he kept his speech pretty simple.
    "The main thing we talked about was not fouling.," he said. "We were in a situation where if we would have fouled, they would have had two shots. I told the girls, 'if you have your arms up and they make a shot to win it, (Eldorado) deserves it. We'll shake their hands, pat them on the back and tell them that was a heck of a game.'"
    Eldorado trailed most of the night, despite battling back from deficits as much as nine and seven points throughout the game. The Eagles kept their composure and managed to grab a one-point, 52-51 lead with 4:11 to play in the fourth after a pair of free throws by Phillips.
    The lead was just one of two for EHS (3-2), who had a two-point 54-52 lead with 3:47 to play after a bucket by Erica Graczyk, but a 3-pointer by Ashley Ferrell and a free throw by Boer gave Harrisburg a 56-54 lead with 2:14 to play.
    Ashton Unthank put back a Phillips miss with 2:04 to play, before Boer was fouled with 7.4 to go.
    Harrisburg head coach Jake Stewart said the win felt great, but it didn't come without a fight from Eldorado.
    Page 2 of 2 - "Hats off to Eldorado. They are a great team and they did some things tonight that were hard to guard. They have a great offense, but yeah, the win feels really good."
    Ferrell led all scorers with 18 points to pace the Harrisburg offense. Lindsey Murray scored 14 and after Boer's 13, Malayna Douglas scored six, Devan Jones finished with four and Hannah Jones put in two points.
    Unthank and Phillips each scored 17 for Eldorado, while Taylor Goodley put up 15. Graczyk finished with four, while Paige Zertuche had two points and Cassidy Morris had a free throw.
    Stewart said he knew the game would be run of runs, but again, gave credit to Eldorado for a never-say-die attitude.
    We would get up by nine and seven several times, but Eldorado kept finding a way to get back in it. Again, hats off to Josh (Bradley), his kids never quit."
    Bradley added that despite the loss, he feels like his kids will learn more from this defeat than they would have had if they had won.
    "We knew Harrisburg was going to be a physical basketball team," Bradley said. "They like to shoot the 3-pointer. We gave up a few too many, but we answered right back, we never quit. The effort we gave tonight is one that I can't be disappointed about. To take Harrisburg, who has beat everyone by at least 20 points here at home and take them down to the wire, I was very happy by the effort from our girls all week long.
    "That might be the best basketball game we have played as a team in probably two years with the group of girls that we have now, who have been starting for me for the past two years."
    n In the opening game Saturday night, Carmi-White County knocked off Anna-Jonesboro 36-25.
    n In Eldorado's 33-23 win over Anna-Jonesboro Friday night, Phillips led the Eagles with 15 points, while Graczyk had six points and Zertuche, along with Unthank, each finished with five points. Goodley tacked on two for the final tally.
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