Maybe it was the mid-afternoon start time, but the Harrisburg High School girls" basketball team got off to somewhat of a slow start Saturday against Meridian.
But once they did get going — they never really stopped — beating the Bobcats to the tune of 76-45 in what was the matinee to that night"s main showdown between the Harrisburg and Meridian boys.
Harrisburg (8-2) put three players in double figures and had a total of 10 find their way into the scoring column.
Jessica Hopson had a game-high 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point range, while knocking down 5-of-7 free throws in the win.
Karsyn Davis tacked on 14 points for Harrisburg on 5-of-11 shooting from the field and going 3-for-7 from beyond the arc and went 1-of-2 at the free throw line. Lotte Miller rounded out the double digit scoring with 11 points.
After stumbling out to a 19-12 first quarter lead, Harrisburg stepped on the gas in the second quarter, outscoring Meridian 21-8 and countered that with a 24-6 run in the third quarter.
"I thought we defended really well tonight and I thought aside from the first quarter, we rebounded well," Harrisburg head coach Jake Stewart said. "We ran our offense probably the best we have all season, in terms of getting shots and I just thought we had a really good game all around."
Harrisburg finished 22-of-62 from the field, but had almost as many free throws made, going 21-for-30 to finish at 70 percent from the foul stripe.
Stewart knows that percentage was certainly a big factor in coming away with Saturday"s win.
"Our guards did a good job of attacking the basket and our post people did a good job of going up strong. When that happens, you usually go to the line a lot and we stress how important it is to convert free throws in order to win ballgames. Obviously us being able to make free throws was key to our victory tonight."
Matty Hawkins just missed out on double figure scoring, netting nine for Harrisburg, while pulling down a team high eight rebounds and finishing the afternoon with four blocks. Brooke Meylor added eight points, while Lydia Miller finished with five points. Essence Sanders and Toni Crisp each tacked on three points, while Madeline Rider had two points.
The ability to empty his bench and give his starters some breathing room wasn"t something that Stewart said he expected coming in, but also knows how beneficial it could be with an upcoming schedule that includes SIRR Ohio foes Benton and Massac County.
"Our first five did a really good job of building a lead and then our second five did a good job of holding and then we were able to get five more kids in tonight," Stewart said.
"We got a big week coming up with Benton and Massac County. Andy (Sloan) always has his kids ready to play and the same can be said for Keith Shelton at Massac. We need both these wins to get back in the conference race and I truly believe that the conference is wide open still, even though we are 0-2, but if we don"t win (this week), we"re going to have dug ourselves a pretty big hole.