The leaps and bounds that the Harrisburg High School girls' basketball team made this year will no doubt be the foundation for what's to come in many years, but even head coach Jake Stewart knows that in order for his club to be considered one of the elites, many things have to happen.
Namely taking care of the basketball, which in this case Thursday night, meant 28 miscues in a 75-41 Class 2A Regional Championship loss to Mt. Carmel Thursday at Jerry Sloan Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over 19 times in the first half as the Aces took a 45-18 lead into the locker room. Aside from the turnovers, Mt. Carmel's quickness and overall efficiency in the full-court game made things difficult on Harrisburg the entire night.
"Turnovers killed us in the first half," Stewart said. "It didn't help that Lindsey Murray picked up two quick fouls, that hurt us. She's one of the few people we have that can match up with (Tyra) Buss. We just couldn't score, it was a tough night."
Buss led all scorers with 35 points. The junior who has already committed to the University of Indiana had 21 first half points to break the IHSA single season scoring record.
"To try and guard Buss is a difficult task for anyone, she's just so good," Stewart said. "She puts up 35, 40 shots a game and she's just hard to defend. I actually think we did a good job of defending her in the halfcourt, our problem was turning the ball over, where she probably had 20 points off layups.
Harrisburg put a couple of players in double figures as Shelby Boer finished out an illustrious career at Harrisburg as she finished with 12 points. Hanna Jones finished with 11 for the Bulldogs.
Boer was a big part of what Harrisburg was able to accomplish — not just this season — but even in the post season.
Boer's bucket with 5:45 to play in the first quarter gave Harrisburg a brief 6-4 lead. Mt. Carmel quickly tied the contest up at six and from there went on a 11-2 run over the next three minutes to build a 17-8 lead.
The Aces closed out the first quarter with a 26-10 lead, all the while, Harrisburg turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter and 10 in the second quarter.
"They were unforced and that's what is so disappointing," Stewart said. "This summer we'll get back in the gym and work on that. We just had too many turnovers, both games this week. When you play really good teams like that, you're going to get beat."
Hanna Jones did what she could to soften the blow to start the second half as she had three straight buckets. Jones was able to cut the deficit to 24 off her third make getting it to 49-25, but Mt. Carmel went on the offensive again, running out to a 57-31 lead and closing out the third quarter up 65-37.
Page 2 of 2 - Mt. Carmel now advances to the Newton Sectional on Monday where they will play the winner of Pana and Sullivan, part of the Tuscola Regional at 7:30 p.m. The championship game of that Sectional will be Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Also advancing to Newton as an individual will be Harrisburg junior Malayna Douglas who won the Country Financial Three-Point Showdown.
The 5-foot-7 guard hit a total of nine three-pointers to lead all contestants. Also advancing were Mt. Carmel's Brandi Metcalf and Buss, along with Hamilton County's Emily McCullough.
Michael Dann can be reached at hbgsports@dailyregister. com Follow Michael Dann on Twitter @spydieshooter.
Harrisburg 10 08 19 04 - 41
Mt. Carmel 26 19 20 10 - 75
Harrisburg: Douglas 1 0-0 2, Murray 1 0-0 2, Ferrell 0 0-1 1, H. Jones 5 1-1 11, Boer 4 4-5 12, Hobbs, Younger 2 0-0 4, D. Jones 3 0-1 6, Walker, Keith 1 1-1 3, Reynolds, Thompson. Totals: 17 5-9 41.
Mt. Carmel: Buss 15 5-6 35, Tennis, Dardeen 3 1-1 7, Lang 3 3-4 11, Rosignol 6 0-0 10, Keepes 2 0-0 5, Hicks 0 1-3 1, Gill 1 0-0 2, Marshall, Dunkel 1 0-0 2, Metcalf, Alka. Totals: 31 8-14 75.