The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Boys Basketball: Local flavor sweetens EHT

  • Harrisburg, Gallatin County, Eldorado all representatives in field of top 8 seeds
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  • It was a meeting of the minds Wednesday in Saline County.
    Coaches, head and assistant, representing 16 teams met at Dad's Bar-B-Q for the seed meeting of the 48th annual Eldorado Holiday Tournament, set to take place December 27, 28 and 29 at Duff-Kingston Gymnasium.
    Even before Eldorado athletic director Greg Goodley passed out instructions and plates of food were consumed, one thing was certain: Harrisburg was going to be a No. 1 seed.
    Harrisburg, off to a 7-0 start, which is currently second best in school history after the 1997-98 team started off 9-0, has won the past two EHT titles, beating Massac County in the finals.
    The Bulldogs are going for a rare feat that has only happened once, winning the tournament three times.
    Norris City-Omaha-Enfield actually turned the trick back in 1998, 99 and 00. Some Harrisburg head coach Randy Smithpeters acknowledged the high expectations that have been bestowed upon him and realizes it will be no easy task.
    "We're happy to be No. 1 and I have always considered that an honor," Smithpeters said. "I think that's an honor that our guys have earned with their past seasons or performances and also the way we've started off this season.
    "I know with the field at the Eldorado Holiday Tournament, it's going to be tough as usual with Meridian, Gallatin County and Union County, a new team, which I expect will bring quality basketball. There are always good teams there and it's always a tough three days and it will be this year."
    The overall No. 2 seed went to Gallatin County, where the Hawks are off to a 7-1 start. The only loss coming to Harrisburg in the season opener for both schools.
    Meridian was the No. 3 seed. The Bobcats are 8-1 on the year after winning the Vienna Classic, while Massac County, the team that took Meridian into overtime at the Vienna Classic is the No. 4 seed. The Patriots are off to a 5-2 start.
    Union County, Ky., the team that replaced Pope County in this year's EHT, is 4-2, while Herrin (1-5) is the No. 6 seed and Eldorado (3-5) grabbed the No. 7 seed. The final seed at No. 8 went to Fairfield who is off to a 3-4 start.
    Locally, Carrier Mills will kick things off this year, taking on Union County at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 27.
    Harrisburg will then take on Hardin County at 1:45 p.m. That game will be followed by Gallatin County and Galatia squaring off at 7 p.m. and Eldorado will play Anna-Jonesboro at 8:30 p.m.
    One of Smithpeters' goals this season, unbeknownst to many, was to try and play two games in one day, much like the Bulldogs did on December 1, playing at 1 p.m. in the Marshall County shoot out and then coming back to play in the nightcap at 8 p.m. of the Harrisburg Invitational.
    Page 2 of 2 - If Harrisburg were to get to the championship game of the EHT, which they have been able to do the past three seasons, Smithpeters fully believes the preparation in the prior event, should pay off for his club in the semifinals and championship match on Dec. 29.
    "It's the atmosphere and this year, with the tournament staff moving it to a Thursday, Friday, Saturday schedule, I think the atmosphere will be even more electric than it has in the past," Smithpeters added. "It's the only place in the regular season where you can get that post season electricity. It's a great thing for players and teams to experience in preparation for postseason play where the pressure is really there.
    "If you can get to that Final Four, then you feel that excitement and you have to prepare, you have the pressure and a lot of similarities between that and postseason play and it's a great experience.
    Follow Michael Dann on Twitter @spydieshooter.
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