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Prep Girls Hoops: Matching Up

  • Harrisburg's Matty Hawkins is third on the Bulldogs point per game average, but is the teams only player that averages a double-double. Harrisburg will play Nashville in tonight's sectional semifinal at Johnston City High School.

    Harrisburg's Matty Hawkins is third on the Bulldogs point per game average, but is the teams only player that averages a double-double. Harrisburg will play Nashville in tonight's sectional semifinal at Johnston City High School.
    MICHAEL DANN | mdann@dailyregister.com

 
Posted on 2/14/2017, 7:59 AM

When you announce where you are going, sometimes it"s a good idea to recall where you have been.

In 2014 when Harrisburg head girls" basketball coach Jake Stewart won his first Class 2A Regional, it started a streak to this day that has remained intact.

The Bulldogs have appeared in five straight regional title games, coming away with the second championship plaque last Thursday in a 56-50 win over West Frankfort.

The foundation, which was the squad of Ashley Ferrell, Lindsey Murray, Hanna Jones, Malayan Douglas, Kelsey Hobbs and Alexa Burtis helped build the structure Stewart and company are currently working with.

That 21-11 team that lost to Teutopolis in the Casey-Westfield Sectional, will now get to watch Stewart"s 24-7 team that will be taking on Nashville in the Johnston City Sectional tonight.

The similarities between the two are there as Stewart looks to continue on a season that has been promising to date.

"That 2014 team had multiple people that could score and could score in different ways. We were very good from the outside, but also from the inside. I think this year"s team might be better at doing it, but just like then, we didn"t have to rely on just one person."

Four of Stewart"s starting five are averaging double figures with Tennessee transfer and junior guard Jessica Hopson leading the way way 14 points per game. Fellow junior point guard Lotte Miller is averaging 13 points per game, while Matty Hawkins, Harrisburg"s junior forward, is the lone double-double on the list with 12 points per game, 11 rebounds per game and six blocks. Karsyn Davis rounds out the double digit scoring with 10 points per game.

The inside-outside game for Stewart starts and ends with Hawkins and knows she will be a key piece to how far Harrisburg goes in the postseason.

Nashville does what Nashville has always done. The Hornets (23-6) are fundamentally sound on offense and aren"t afraid to work some clock to get the shot they want.

"That"s the first thing that sticks out at me, just how fundamentally sound they are," Stewart said. "They don"t make mistakes offensively and they aren"t out of place on defense. We match up well with them and I think we do some things that will cause them problems."

Stewart said that begins with playing Harrisburg"s style of basketball.

"What will be important is not letting them dictate the tempo of the game. If they don"t get the first shot they want, they"ll hold the ball and see if it is there on the second option, then the third. We can"t settle for that open three or jumper. We have to move the basketball and run our offense. If not, we"ll run back down and play defense for two minutes. We"re not going to change our style, but we also can"t get crazy in our offense."

The regional championship, Stewart said, has given his team a new found life and something he knows can be difficult when you have played a long season.

"I think they are excited, maybe even rejuvenated. Some teams wear down mentally and physically, but I am excited we"re we are at in both of those categories right now."

Michael Dann covers prep and college sports for the Harrisburg Daily Register and Eldorado Daily Journal. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.