By MICHAEL DANN
HARRISBURG — It’s been 268 days since Randy Smithpeters and company hoisted the hardware on the hardwood in Peoria.
The reigning Class 2A State Champions take the floor for the first time tonight (Monday) in the same fashion they did a year ago that resulted in a state title.
Harrisburg will take on Gallatin County at 7:30 p.m. in the nightcap of the Harrisburg Invitational played this week at Davenport Gymnasium.
Many things will stay the same, while there will obviously be some glaring differences.
Gallatin County, Carmi-White County and Eldorado, along with Harrisburg make up this year’s participants. Gone is Hamilton County.
The most noticeable loss will be what the Bulldogs throw on the floor. Gone are four players who all signed scholarship papers after their playing days. Tyler Smithpeters went on to play hoops at Southern Illinois University, while Capel Henshaw is suting up for the Lewis Flyers. Ryne Roper has gone to the University of Illinois to play baseball, while Dakota Upchurch is playing football for the Salukis.
Also gone are Justin Younger, who is playing baseball at Southeastern Illinois Community College, while the Bulldogs will also miss the services of Caleb Bartok, Gabe Oglesby and foreign exchange student Snjolfur Bjorsson.
Harrisburg loses 75 percent of the team’s scoring as Harrisburg lost 1,733 points from last season. The Bulldogs have 616 points returning as Eli Taborn-Scott enters the season with 901 career points, he scored 354 as a junior. Bahari Amaya, another key contributor from last year enters with 216 points.
Harrisburg is 22-1 all time in the six year history of the tournament, having won 14 straight games in the tournament with the only loss coming to Carmi-White County in the 2009-10 tournament.
Michael Dann can be reached at email@example.com or follow on twitter:
7th Annual Harrisburg
Monday, December 2
Eldorado vs. Carmi-White Co., 6 pm
Harrisburg vs. Gallatin Co., 7:30 pm
Wednesday, Decmber 4
Carmi-White Co. vs. Gallatin Co., 6 pm
Harrisburg vs. Eldorado, 7:30 pm
Friday, December 6
Gallatin Co., vs. Eldorado, 6 pm
Harrisburg vs. Carmi-White Co., 7:30 pm