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Prep Hoops: Harrisburg outlasts Steeleville at Ernie Bozarth tourney

  • Harrisburg's Isaiah Saulsberry takes a shot over Steeleville's Noah Valleroy during the Bulldogs' 66-49 win over Steeleville on Monday. Saulsberry led Harrisburg with 23 points.

    Harrisburg's Isaiah Saulsberry takes a shot over Steeleville's Noah Valleroy during the Bulldogs' 66-49 win over Steeleville on Monday. Saulsberry led Harrisburg with 23 points.
    PETE SPITLER | Editor@heraldtrib.com

 
By Pete Spitler
Editor@heraldtrib.com
updated: 11/27/2017 9:19 PM

Isaiah Saulsberry led three players in double figures with 23 points, and Harrisburg's signature defensive pressure ultimately powered the Bulldogs to a 66-49 win over Steeleville on Monday in the opening game of the Ernie Bozarth Memorial Thanksgiving Tournament.

Dalton Lambert added 14 points and Will Gibbs contributed 10 for Harrisburg, which saw Steeleville rally from a 19-8 deficit to tie the game at 24 on two free throws by Owen Gross with 1:04 left in the second quarter.

Gross led all scorers with 26 points for the Warriors, who scored the first six points of the game.

"We had a few runs in the first half, we just weren't consistent enough to continue those," said Harrisburg coach Randy Smithpeters. "First game out, hopefully that's something we will learn."

The Bulldogs took a 26-24 lead into the locker room at halftime and kept a slim advantage through most of the third quarter.

Steeleville closed to within a single bucket twice, but Harrisburg closed out the frame with an 8-2 run that gave the Bulldogs a 42-33 lead entering the fourth quarter.

"We had a couple looks that we were trying to get," said Steeleville coach Aaron Fiene, making his head coaching debut with the Warriors. "We had our opportunities and I didn't prepare them well enough for some of the pressure that (Harrisburg) did and that's on me.

"I wanted to get the ball inside more, but (Harrisburg) did a really good job of pressuring the ball and taking our guards."

The fourth quarter pretty much belonged to Harrisburg, which took a 47-33 advantage on a layup by Jordan Bartok with 6:45 remaining in the game.

Steeleville put together one final run to get back within 10 points, 51-43, on two free throws by Mel Mulholland with 3:23 left, but Harrisburg closed out the win with a 15-6 surge.

"Our press is one that's hard to prepare for," Smithpeters said. "It's hard to adjust to and it's one that wears on you over 32 minutes.

"You may not get those six turnovers in the first half, but there will be a point in the game where it pays off for you and I think that's kinda how it operated tonight."

The outcome overshadows a superb performance from Gross, who had 22 of his team's 35 points at one point in the contest and scored eight straight points late in the second quarter to help Steeleville tie the game.

"He played a really good game," Fiene said. "They really defended him hard and he's capable of that and we're going to have to expect that from him, but we've got other guys who can score."

Tournament play continues Tuesday night, as both teams head to Trico for the second night of pool play. Harrisburg plays the host Pioneers at 6:30 p.m., while Steeleville takes on Sparta at 8 p.m.