Don’t’ ever think for a second that winning gets old hat for Harrisburg.
However, for one night - a Friday night in March - it was anything about Madness and more about remembering.
The Bulldogs captured the school’s seventh IHSA Class 2A Sectional championship with a 52-26 win over Nashville and the sixth for Harrisburg head coach Randy Smithpeters, as well as, a second straight and for all the hardwood plaques and basketball nets, it paled in comparison to what really mattered.
“This is for our community,” Harrisburg senior Tyler Smithpeters said. “On what would be the anniversary of last year’s (Leap Day) tornado, our one and only thought was to go out and win one for all of Harrisburg.
Max Morris Gymnasium was packed to the rafters and a strong contingent of Bulldog faithful were on hand.
Their made their presence known with about 1:22 to play in the game and broke out in unison with a chant of “S-I-U.”
The chant was in reference to Tuesday night’s Super Sectional showdown at the SIU Arena in Carbondale where Harrisburg will take on Teutopolis at 8 p.m. with a berth on Peoria and the state tournament on the line.
Capel Henshaw followed the lead of his fellow running mate of Smithpeters admitting that each one of these championships are special. Despite the chest-bumping or high-fiving that many teams might portray at the title game, Harrisburg just goes about its business.
However, Henshaw said there isn’t much time to reflect on what’s been accomplished.
“It’s more of what we want to accomplish for the future,“ The senior shooting guard said. “We enjoy what we’ve been able to do, but it’s what we want to do that really matter to us.”
Henshaw is the first to admit that there is still a collective bad taste in the mouth of Harrisburg and this group of Bulldogs, who were upended by Breese Central, who went on to win the state title.
“We’re kind looking forward to getting back up there and show some people we are ready to take it to the next level.”
As far as winning back-to-back sectional titles, Smithpeters said there’s time for them to soak everything in.
“We’ll hang out, maybe get some free Mackie’s pizza, but tomorrow we’ll be back to work.”
Michael Dann can be reached at mdann@dailyregister. com Follow Michael Dann on Twitter @spydieshooter.