MURPHYSBORO — Lovejoy came out cold falling behind by 13 in the first quarter, but blistered the nets in the second quarter to beat Harrisburg, 47-45, in the opening game of the Murphysboro Pool at the 18th annual Ernie Bozarth Memorial Thanksgiving Tournament on Monday.
“I can only give the credit to the players for playing through some adversity tonight,” said Lovejoy coach Kim Haywood, Jr. “Even though we had only seven players they proved they could accomplish anything together. It was the right seven tonight.”
Lovejoy improved to 2-3 on the season and 1-0 in the tournament and will play Murphysboro in the second game on Wednesday.
Harrisburg dropped to 0-1 and will take on Chester in Wednesday’s first game at 5:30 p.m. In the second game, Murphysboro beat Chester, 62-35.
After starting the game shooting 8-of-14 from the field in the first quarter, the Bulldogs cooled off making just 1-of-7 in the second quarter, 4-of-11 in the third quarter and finishing 4-of-14 in the fourth quarter. At the line, the Bulldogs made only 11-of-22 and just 2-of-8 in the fourth quarter.
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“It’s hard to win any game when you shoot as poorly as we did tonight from both the field and the line and our turnovers hurt (21),” said Harrisburg coach Randy Smithpeters. “It looked like a first game for us with poor shooting and turnovers, however, our fouls weren’t as horrible like I was concerned about. It was a great lesson for our guys in the fact you have to do certain things well to give yourself a chance and we were lucky we even had a chance.”
Lovejoy trailed by one at the half and by two after three quarters and fell behind by four in the fourth quarter after Camron Ande sank a layup while being fouled, but missed the free throw, which started a drought at the line for the Bulldogs that covered 6:48 on the clock and six straight missed free throws.
Lovejoy began its final comeback with a layup by Shantez Holliday 27 seconds later to cut the lead to two. Wesley Rodgers swished a 3-pointer a minute later to give the Wildcats the lead 40-39 with 5:58 remaining. Holliday led the game with 15 points.
Harrisburg then missed two free throws with 3:36 left. Thirty-seven seconds later, Michael McCallum canned a 3-pointer from left side of the key and Lovejoy led by four with 2:59 left. McCallum finished with 13 points.
Harrisburg then missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:56 remaining and Lovejoy ran over a minute off the clock before Jamal Brown scored on a putback to up the lead to six with 48.9 seconds left.
Harrisburg had a chance to cut the lead down to two 12 seconds later when Nathan Lawrence was fouled and the Lovejoy coach was called for a technical, but the two technical foul shots were missed before Lawrence sank his two regular free throws leaving the Bulldogs down by four with 36.8 seconds remaining.
Holliday was fouled with 20.9 seconds remaining and made both his shots to extend the lead back to six. Lawrence scored on a rebound and after Lovejoy missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Chris Allen grabbed the rebound and fed Myles Crank for a fast break layup and the Bulldogs trailed by two with 4.5 seconds left.
McCallum was sent to the line and missed the front end again with 3.4 remaining, but all Harrisburg could manage was a desperation shot at the buzzer that went off the backboard and missed the rim.
The first half was a tale of two quarters. Harrisburg came out shooting making 8-of-14 field and 2-of-2 from the line to jump out to a 19-6 lead with 1:37 remaining.
Jeremy McLorn, who had came off the bench a few minutes earlier, stole the ball and scored to cut the lead to 11 heading into the second quarter.
McLorn seemed to have sparked his teammates as Lovejoy went on a 13-3 run to cut the lead to one with 2:29 left in the first half as the Wildcats shot .600 from the field on 6-of-10 shots with the only misses being from beyond the arc.
“It came down to the team settling to the game,” Haywood Jr. said. “We tell them to shoot it with confidence when they’re open. They just executed better in the second quarter.”
Harrisburg extended its lead to three on a pair of free throws by Michael Godsey, but Lovejoy rallied back when McCallum scored on a layup and then drew a foul and made both free throws to give the Wildcats its first lead, 25-24 with 17.3 left. Godsey was fouled in a scramble with 5.8 seconds remaining and made both free throws again to give Harrisburg a 26-25 lead at the half. Godsey finished with 13 points.