Prince can party like it’s 1999. Harrisburg will turn back the clock a little bit and break it down like it’s 1995.
The Harrisburg High School boys’ basketball team broke a 18-year drought with a 77-66 win over Teutopolis Tuesday night to win the Carbondale Class 2A Super Sectional and will now represent southern Illinois as one of four teams in this weekends IHSA State Basketball Tournament at Carver Arena in Peoria.
Tyler Smithpeters, who didn’t wait long for the warm embrace from his father and head coach Randy Smithpeters scored a game-high 25 points in 28 minutes.
The senior guard said after being in a similar situation and not getting the job done this was a priority this year.
“It ran through our minds, even as far back as being freshmen that we would have this opportunity, but I’m not sure we actually thought it would happen.
It did happen and thanks in large part to a 16-4 run over a span of two minutes midway through the second quarter, Harrisburg broke open a 24-23 ballgame to make it 41-30 at halftime.
Randy Smithpeters who has now guided the Bulldogs to a 31-1 record echoed many of his sons thoughts about the position the team was in just a year ago.
“A year ago we are in the dressing room with our head down,” Smithpeters recalled. “This group has matured, they have worked very hard. They deserve this. I’m happy for them. I’m happy for our community and everyone in our program and school.”
However, Smithpeters acknowledged the experience Harrisburg gained from playing in last year’s Super Sectional, losing to eventual state champion Breese Central.
“This group - like 700 other teams back in October - this is what you dream of. We have been here and that was a factor, perhaps a good factor, that we had the experience of being here. It was a matter of playing the game and doing the X’s and O’s on the floor.”
The opportunity to now play for a state title is something Harrisburg hasn’t had the chance to do since 1995 when they knocked off Breese Mater Dei.
Capel Henshaw, who scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and a 4-for-4 clip from the free throw line, reminisced about that moment some three years ago when he stepped on the floor as a freshmen, wondering if this opportunity would ever present itself.
“It’s just been a real special moment for this group of players that I have played with,” Henshaw said. “I think it was always in the back of our mind that we would make it up (to Peoria) and win some games up there too.”
Page 2 of 4 - Harrisburg got out to a 21-16 first quarter start and was able to outscore Teutpolis 20-14 in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs went to work on the defensive end, pushing the lead to 17 points with 3:52 to play and outscored the Wooden Shoes 20-17 in the third quarter.
The defensive pressure applied by the ‘Dogs was one key Randy Smithpeters knew would be crucial after his team was able to go into the locker room was a comfortable cushion for a lead.
“We knew it would be a tough T-town team and it would be tough on both ends of the floor,” Smithpeters said. “We didn’t get our traditional start, but that is something that I also knew that is something that they (Teutopolis) would focus on was to really lock us down the first three or four minutes.
“We played through some things, got a little bit of a lead and I also think that’s something that T-town isn’t used to, but again, I thought we defended well down the stretch. We gave up some baskets. We gave up some run outs, some baseline drives that we didn’t do a very good job of stepping over and helping on, but it’s something we’ll get better at.”
In the middle of Smithpeters and Henshaw, was Eli Taborn-Scott, who scored 21 points for the Bulldogs.
Bahari Amaya finished with five points, while Ryne Roper had four and Snjolfur Bjornsson tacked on three. Dakota Upchurch had two points.
Jared Waldhoff had 17 points for Teutopolis, while Derek Smith scored 16 and Kyle Prumer had 13 points.
Harrisburg was able to force the Shoes into 10 turnovers, outscoring them 14-5 off points from turnovers. Harrisburg has seven second-chance points, compared to five from Teutopolis and only trailed one time, 3-0 early in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs finished the night shooting 61 percent from the field, while going 30 percent from behind the arc, knocking down just 4-13.
Michael Dann can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @spydieshooter.
Name FG FT R F Pts
Smithpeters 8-12 7-13 5 4 25
Henshaw 6-9 4-4 9 3 17
Page 3 of 4 - Roper 2-6 0-1 6 2 4
Scott 7-11 7-8 4 4 21
Upchurch 1-1 0-1 3 2 2
Amaya 2-4 0-0 1 0 5
Bjornsson 1-1 1-4 1 1 3
Totals 27-44 19-31 32 16 77
Name FG FT R F Pts
Mette 1-4 1-4 3 1 3
Pruemer 6-10 1-2 13 4 13
Smith 6-12 4-5 2 3 16
Waldhoff 7-12 2-4 8 4 17
Will 1-5 0-0 2 2 3
Ungrund 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Page 4 of 4 - Windell 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Hardiek 2-7 0-0 0 0 5
Falbe 3-5 1-2 1 5 7
Kenter 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Niemerg 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Schultz 1-1 0-0 0 3 2
Totals 27-56 9-17 29 22 66
3-Point FG: Harrisburg 4-13 (Smithpeters 2, Henshaw, Amaya), Teutopolis 3-18 (Waldhoff, Will, Hardeik). Turnovers: Harrisburg 10, Teutopolis 10. Assists: Harrisburg 7, Teutopolis 13. Steals: Harrisburg 4, Teutopolis 4.
Harrisburg 21 20 20 16 - 77
Teutopolis 16 14 17 19 - 66