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HARRISBURG — Like 20 teams before them, Fairfield’s Lady Mules fell victim to Harrisburg’s inside-out approach. The top-ranked 2A team in the state knocked off Fairfield 66-37 in Lady Eagle Winter Classic action in Eldorado.

With 6-foot-2 Matty Hawkins controlling the paint and Karsyn Davis, Jessica Hopson and Lotte Miller shooting from the perimeter, Harrisburg forces opponents to guard the entire floor.

Tuesday night’s victory was a classic example. The Lady Bulldogs had 26 field goals – eight by Hawkins in the paint, eight more from beyond the arc.

“If we go inside to Matty and she’s getting doubled and kicks it out and we’re hitting shots. I don’t know who can guard us just because we have Miller, Davis and Hopson shooting the ball on the outside and we have Matty as well as Madeline Rider on the inside,” said Harrisburg coach Jake Stewart. “We’re tough to beat whenever that’s happening.”

So far this season, they’ve been impossible to beat.

“They’re No. 1 in 2A right now for a reason,” said Fairfield coach Tonya Conrad. “They have so many weapons against you. You have to help inside on Hawkins and then they’ve got shooters around the perimeter. You have Miller that can get to the rim at will, and she does a good job of finding Hawkins or kicking out to those shooters. They’re just very hard to defend.

“I’m not knocking my kids. I thought they played their tail ends off and did some good things, but they are a very good ballclub.”

Fairfield was able to hang with Harrisburg through the first quarter, trailing just 16-12 after eight minutes. However, the Lady Bulldogs turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, going on an 18-4 run to take a commanding 30-16 lead at the half.

“That was the plan tonight, to get up and guard them and make them make decisions,” Stewart said. “I thought once we realized we had to do that we sped them up a little bit. That’s when we took control of the ballgame.”

“They brought that little bit of pressure and we turned the ball over in that second quarter a few too many times,” Conrad said.

Harrisburg’s inside-out approach was evident during that run. Hawkins scored seven points in that span while Hopson and Davis hit treys during that span.

At the same time, the Lady Bulldogs settled down on the offensive end. Harrisburg had eight turnovers in the first 11 minutes of the game, just two in the last five minutes of the half.

“Once we figured out what they were doing (defensively) we kind of settled in a little bit and got going,” Stewart said.

Hawkins led Harrisburg with 16 points and Hopson had 16, including four treys. Davis added 10.

Kylar Slover and Rachel Jennings led Fairfield with 16 and 15 points, respectively.

Harrisburg and Fairfield both return to action Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs face Gallatin County while Fairfield plays Benton.


On Twitter: @LesWinkeler​


Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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