HERRIN — Friday night’s win over Carterville for the championship of the Rangerette Classic was glamour time for the Harrisburg girls basketball team.
Wednesday night’s SIRR Ohio match at Herrin was grind time.
In a game where the state’s top-ranked Class 2A team couldn’t find the bucket with a GPS for the first 11 minutes, the Bulldogs eventually figured things out. A 23-0 run to finish the first half quashed Herrin’s upset bid and helped Harrisburg notch a 61-35 decision.
“We came out flat tonight and that’s going to happen at this point of the season, especially after we played a big game like we did (Friday) night,” Bulldogs coach Jake Stewart said. “But I’m proud of the kids for making that big run.”
Calling this a big run is an understatement along the lines of saying that Aaron Judge can mash a fastball. It was only 11-10 11 minutes into the game, with the Tigers (4-11, 0-5) controlling pace and limiting turnovers to the extent that they appeared to gain confidence.
Then Lotte Miller checked in with a 3-pointer. Jessica Hopson added one and Miller tacked on two free throws after a steal. The snowball rolled down the hill and became an avalanche. Miller scored again and Hopson drilled another 3.
Harrisburg’s pressure defense forced a spate of turnovers that led to transition points. Every Bulldog starter scored during the spurt, turning a one-point edge into a 34-10 halftime lead.
“We had a good game plan and I thought it was working pretty well,” first-year Herrin coach Chris Roberts said. “Then they got into their press and we turned it over a few times, and didn’t get shots in the second quarter.
“I think someone said if you take out that run, it’s a three-point game. But gosh, they’re the number one team in the state for a reason. They’re pretty good.”
Miller finished with a game-high 17 points and four assists for Harrisburg (17-0, 5-0). Hopson drained three 3-pointers and added 13 points. Center Matty Hawkins contributed nine points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots before fouling out with 3:38 left.
Hawkins had plenty of chances. The Tigers tried to attack her in the post with 5-10 junior Grace Lehnhoff repeatedly. While the strong Lehnhoff had her moments, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds, Hawkins protected the basket successfully.
“I thought Matty did a good job of going straight up and not fouling,” Stewart said.
Madison Russell sank three 3-pointers and scored 12 points to pace Herrin.