If the first half of the high school regular season has taught Harrisburg anything, its that every night will be a dog fight for the Bulldogs.
Harrisburg squeaked and sweated out a 58-54 win over Murphysboro Friday night at Davenport Gymnasium, preventing Harrisburg from losing two straight games since the 2010 season.
Eli Taborn-Scott scored a game-high 23 points for Harrisburg (10-2, 2-2) as the senior forward came up big down the stretch for the Bulldogs.
After Murphysboro cut a 10-point third quarter deficit to two at the 3:35 mark after a Steven Eldridge dunk, Scott stepped up, knocking down a jumper to give Harrisburg a 52-48 lead.
Back-to-back buckets by the Red Devils (6-6, 2-2), knotted the game at 52-all, but again Taborn-Scott was there for the Bulldogs, completing the deuce and abuse to put Harrisburg up 55-52 with a minute to play.
That play provided enough breathing room for Harrisburg head coach Randy Smithpeters and company as Smithpeters picked up win No. 399 in his career.
For Muphysboro head coach Daryl Murphy, he was all to aware of who the Bulldogs would rely on the down the stretch.
"Taborn-Scott was huge for them. I've been watching him for four years and I'll be glad when he graduates. He's a heck of player and Harrisburg knew who they had to go to and they did."
Murphy added that two major points of emphasis for his club going into the game was keeping Harrisburg off the glass and stopping the Bulldogs' transition game.
In the end, Harrisburg out rebounded Murphysboro 34-20 and struggled in the first half to stop the run and gun game by the Bulldogs, where the Red Devils turned the ball over seven times, five in the second quarter where Harrisburg took a 29-18 lead into the locker room.
"We played a pretty good game over here (Friday)," Murphy said. "We missed some easy shots and we didn't do a very good job of blocking out in the first half and that's what Harrisburg does. Randy Smithpeter's teams always attack the glass. They do a great job of offensive rebounding and they beat us up on that in the first half.
"We had a few opportunities, I don't know if we were ever in a position to win the game, but we had some opportunities. "
Devante Jones had 14 for the Red Devils, while Eric Finders and Eldridge each had 13 to finish in double figures.
After Taborn-Scott's 23 points, Jake Simerly and Corbin Crim each had two points. Simerly grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and Crim, who started in place of the injured Jarren Goldman, grabbed nine boards.
Harrisburg finished the game shooting 35 percent from the floor, going 17-for-48, but took advantage of its time at the free throw line, knocking down 21-of-27 shots.
Page 2 of 2 - Murphysboro went 21-for-48 from the field, including a 3-of-8 clip from beyond the arc, while shooting 11-of-15 from the foul line.
Michael Dann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @spydieshooter.
Murphysboro 07 11 15 21 — 54
Harrisburg 07 22 11 18 — 58
Murphysboro (6-6, 2-2): Murphy 1-5 1-2 4, Finders 6-9 1-1 13, Jones 4-14 6-8 14, Harris 0-3 1-2 1, Eldridge 5-13 2-2 13, Miller 3-3 0-0 7, Hibbler 1-1 0-0 2, Easton 0-0 0-0 0, Battles 0-0 0-0 0, McCall 0-0 0-0 0, Tucker 0-0 0-0 0, Henry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-28 11-15 54.
Harrisburg (10-2, 2-2) Houston 3-7 2-4 9, Simerly 3-5 4-4 10, Crim 2-9 5-6 10, Amaya 2-10 0-0 6, Taborn-Scott 7-16 9-11 23, Street 0-1 0-0 0, Batts 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-48 21-27 58.
3-point FG: Murphysboro 3-8 (Murphy 1-2, Finders 0-1, Jones 0-3, Eldridge 1-1, Miller 1-1), Harrisburg 3-9 (Houston 1-3, Crim 0-1, Amaya 2-4, Street 0-1). Turnovers: Murphysboro 12, Harrisburg 16. Rebounds: Murphysboro 20, Harrisburg 34. Fouls: Murphysboro 18, Harrisburg 12.