This season was a lot of firsts for the Harrisburg girls' basketball team.
The Bulldogs rattled off 31 straight wins, a first for HHS, and also won three straight tournaments, captured the school's first Southern Illinois River-To-River Conference Ohio Division crown and won a regional.
In the IHSA Class 2A Sectional Championship Thursday night, Harrisburg endured another first -- a loss.
The Bulldogs ran into a buzzsaw in Breese Mater Dei, falling 55-44 at Hamilton County High School.
An emotional Jake Stewart, head coach for Harrisburg, had blood shot eyes as he spoke with members of the media afterwards about how difficult the loss was to swallow.
"Its tough. I hurt because my kids hurt," he said. Looking back though and my three seniors that are leaving, I'm so happy for them and the season they had."
The stingy defense of The Knights held Harrisburg to 41 percent shooting on 17-of-41 from the field and the Bulldogs went 4-of-12 from 3-point range for 33 percent, while shooting just 50 percent from the foul line, finishing 6-for-12.
It was one-and-done on the offensive end for the Bulldogs most of the night, as Breese Mater Dei gabbed 20 defensive boards and out rebounded Harrisburg 28-18.
"We knew coming in that they were going to crash the glass and we were going to have to get defensive rebounds to be successful tonight and we just didn't do a very good job of that," Stewart said. "I don't think we shot particularly well. These goals are a little tight here and part of our game is shooting outside shots and we just had too many droughts offensively."
Matty Hawkins, one of three seniors for Harrisburg, had 10 first half points and finished with 13 in the game to lead the Bulldogs. Karsyn Davis, who got the Bulldogs to within three points at 25-22 with 1:34 in the second quarter, the closest Harrisburg would get all night, tacked on 11 points to also finish in double figures.
Breese Mater Dei closed out the first half up 28-22 on the 'Dogs as the scoring drought went into effect for Harrisburg in the third quarter.
Harrisburg senior guard Lotte Miller, who finished with nine points, made a pair of free throws with 6:34 in the third to make it a 33-24 ballgame and the Bulldogs didn't get another basket unit Miller converted on a layup with 1:47 to play to make it 39-26.
Davis was able to make it a 10-point ballgame at 41-31 with 6:00 to play in the fourth and Jessica Hopson, a senior guard, who finished with seven points got Harrisburg to within 10 at 43-33 with 4:33 to play had to play catchup against a Breese Mater Dei team that didn't miss much from the free throw line down the stretch, going 19-for-25 in the game.
""We knew if we did get down we were going to have to chase them," Stewart said. "They're a really good free throw shooting team, so one of our main goals coming in was not get so far behind that we had to foul to catch up."
BMD went 17-of-44 from the field for 38 percent and shot 25 percent from long range, knocking down just 2-of-8 shots, while putting three players in double figures.
Myah Beckman had a team-high 16 points, while Kierra Winkler finished with 14 points and Abby Braundmeier tacked on 12 in the win.
Brooke Meylor was the only other Harrisburg player to score, finishing with four points.
Breese Mater Dei will now play in Teutopolis in the Salem Super Sectional Monday night at 8 p.m.
Michael Dann covers prep and college sports for the Harrisburg Register, Eldorado Journal & The Gallatin County Democrat. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.