The Harrisburg boys’ basketball team pulled out another blank canvas Friday night.
The end result wasn’t one of their prettier masterpieces, but the overall work of art stayed in tact as Harrisburg survived a late scare to knock off Murphysboro 59-49 on the road in Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference Ohio Division action.
Harrisburg improved to 21-1 on the season, including a unbeaten clip in league play and have a week off before they play host to Massac County Friday night at Davenport Gym, followed by a trip to Benton Saturday afternoon to play Casey-Westfield in the Rich Herrin Shoot Out.
Tyler Smithpeters led two other Bulldogs in double figures as the 6-foot-4 shooting guard poured in a game-high 27 points, including 19 in the first half as Harrisburg built a 39-22 first half lead. Smithpeters had a double-double on the night, pulling down 10 rebounds in the win.
Dakota Upchurch and Bahari Amaya each had 11 points, with Upchurch tacking on eight points in a critical second half where Harrisburg was outscored 17-8 in the third quarter and 27-20 overall.
The effort was “lackadaisical” according to Harrisburg head coach Randy Smithpeters, but was still pleased to exit Jackson County with the win.
“I think on the offensive end is where we let down the most,” Smithpeters said. “We didn’t run our offense as crisply and shot selection at time was questionable, but I think a lot of that had to do with the flow of the game.
We’re happy with the win,“ he said. “This is always a tough place to play and give some credit to Murphysboro, they played very well, hard and did what they could to give themselves a shot at a win.”
Four minutes into the third quarter, the Red Devils used a 10-2 run to get to within seven at 41-34.
A 3-pointer by Antthony Hibbler with 1:48 to play got Murphysboro to within six at 43-37 and the Red Devils got as close as five with 1:21 to play after a bucket by Kane Wilson.
Much of Harrisburg’s let down could be attributed to playing without the services of Eli Taborn-Scott, who missed the game with the flu, but it can also be pinned to the fact Smithpeters knows he’s every team’s big game.
“We forget that we’re No. 1 in the state,” he admitted. “To us, it’s just us and we practice and we go to the Dairy Queen and the McDonalds and you really forget about that. (These people) don’t forget that. I was here Tuesday night for the Anna-Jonesboro game and they’re might have been 80 people sitting on the other side. Tonight, it’s basically full. We know they are here to see us and it is everyone’s big game. That’s okay. That’s what we’re used to and what we expect.”
Page 2 of 2 - Michael Dann can be reached at hbgsports@dailyregister. com Follow Michael Dann on Twitter @spydieshooter.