The Harrisburg High School basketball team started the season the same way they did a year ago.
The end result was a state title and 268 days later, the Bulldogs got back on the hardwood, defeating Gallatin County 77-51 in the 7th Annual Harrisburg Invitational at Davenport Gymnasium.
Harrisburg has now won 21 straight home games with the last home loss coming in the sectional finals to Murphysboro back in 2011.
Harrisburg is now 23-1 all time in its own Invitational and has now won 15 straight, with the last loss coming to Carmi-White County in 2009-10 season.
The Bulldogs put three players in double figures, two of which were key to Harrisburg winning last year's Class 2A State Championship.
Senior forward Eli Taborn-Scott got off to a good start to the season with 19 points. Taborn-Scott now has 920 career points and is 80 away from 1,000.
Amaya tacked on 18 and joined Taborn-Scott in the double-double club as both pulled down 10 rebounds.
Jake Simerly finished with 16 points, while seven other Bulldogs found the scoring column.
It was a quality win for the Bulldogs against a Gallatin County team that despite playing in last year's Super Sectional at the SIU Arena, graduated all five starters.
"The first game out, I really interested to see how we would react," Harrisburg head coach Randy Smithpeters said. "In practice we have to split squads so much to be competitive that we're not together in the group that we expect to start the game with. So, it was a test tonight on the chemistry and guys playing certain positions together. I was happy with our effort and I was happy with the way we defended as a team. We rebounded well and that's something that we hope to do, because we don't have a big guy, but we do have a good sized team."
Harrisburg outrebounded 43-15 and controlled the both ends of the court as the Bulldogs were awarded a running clock in the fourth quarter after going up 65-36 after three periods.
The Bulldogs raced out to a 24-8 lead and took a 40-22 lead into the locker room.
Gallatin County (1-2) got 12 points from Seth Ramsey, who came off the bench and another 13 points from Marcus Wargel.
Corbin Crim came off the bench to score seven points for Harrisburg (1-0), while
Anfernee Houston chipped in with four points. Jarren Goldman finished with four points and Ben Fowler drilled a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
Kane Carrigan and Reece Owen, along with Carson Batts all had two points.
Austin Russell had 7 points, while Mitchell Ramsey had six points for Gallatin County.
Page 2 of 2 - Chandler Scates, Zach McGuire and Hunter Walters all had two points.
"I think we learned a lot about depending on teammates tonight," Smithpeters added. "There were things that we obviously want to get better at, but there were a few things we mentioned greatly, quickly."
Gallatin County will now play Carmi-White County, starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday night in the Harrisburg Invitational, while Harrisburg will square off with Eldorado, starting at 7:30 p.m.
Michael Dann can be reached at mdann@dailyregister.
Gallatin County 08 14 14 15 - 51
Harrisburg 24 16 25 12 - 77
GALLATIN COUNTY (1-2): M. Ramsey 3-6 1-2 6, Russell 2-7 0-0 7, Jackson 3-9 2-2 7, Scates 1-5 0-0 2, Wargel 6-9 0-1 13, McGuire 1-7 0-0 2, S. Ramsey 4-10 2-2 12, Oldham 0-0 0-2 0, Walters 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 18-52 7-9 51.
HARRISBURG (1-0): Houston 2-4 0-0 4, Goldman 2-6 0-0 4, Simerly 7-8 1-1 16, Amaya 8-15 0-0 18, Scott 9-14 0-0 19, Street 0-0 0-0 0, Crim 3-6 1-1 7, Batts 1-2 0-0 2, Gregg 0-0 0-0 0, Barger 0-0 0-0 0, Fowler 1-1 0-0 3, Owen 1-2 0-0 2, Carrigan 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 37-59 4-5 77.
3-pointers: Gallatin County 5-15 (M. Ramsey 2-4, Russell 0-2, Jackson 0-3, Wargel 1-1, McGuire 0-3, S. Ramsey 2-2). Harrisburg 3-8 (Amaya 2-4, Fowler 1-1, Owen 0-1). Rebounds: Gallatin County 15, Harrisburg 43