It’s good to know that when not even at their best, just good enough, is good enough for the Harrisburg High School boys’ basketball team.
Harrisburg and namely head coach Randy Smithpeters picked up the Bulldogs’ fifth Southern Illinois River-to-River Ohio Division Conference Championship in the last 20 years with weekend wins over Herrin Friday night and at home against West Frankfort Saturday night.
The Bulldogs struggled early, trailing by three points at halftime, before knocking off Herrin 52-44. That trend continued - for at least a quarter - Saturday night when Harrisburg held a four-point first quarter lead on the Redbirds before whipping West Frankfort 75-46.
In the game against the Tigers, Tyler Smithpeters led all scorers with 26 points, while Capel Henshaw finished with 14.
Dakota Upchurch and Bahari Amaya each had five points, while Justin Younger tacked on two.
Herrin held a 14-11 first quarter lead and led 23-20 at intermission.
It’s been two years since Harrisburg had won at Herrin and that seemed to be the case early on Friday, but the Bulldogs responded in the third quarter with a 19-10 run that gave Harrisburg a 39-33 lead over three quarters.
Friday night’s game featured eight lead changes and three ties.
A Amaya bucket with 4:10 in the second quarter gave Harrisburg its first lead of the game at 16-14 and a Smithpeters’ three gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead at 19-14 with 3:41 to play.
Herrin answered right back with buckets by Justin Lukens, Jerral Pirtle and Alec Taitt to reclaim the lead.
It was an eerily similar situation Saturday between Harrisburg and West Frankfort, a game that featured six lead changes and two ties.
Henshaw was joined by two other players in double figures as he had a game-high 23 points. Smithpeters scored 20 and Eli Taborn-Scott tacked on 11.
Ryne Roper knocked down three 3-pointers for nine points, while Younger finished with five. Caleb Bartok tacked on three, while Gabe Oglesby and Upchurch each had two.