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Harrisburg Tournament

Harrisburg girls fall in semis to Hallsville

Will take on tall Blair Oaks team for third place

Justin Addison, Editor/Publisher
Posted 1/26/23

The Harrisburg girls will play for third place in their own tournament on Saturday after falling 60-51 to Class 4 Hallsville in the semifinals on Wednesday night.

Harrisburg, seeded, third, again …

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Harrisburg Tournament

Harrisburg girls fall in semis to Hallsville

Will take on tall Blair Oaks team for third place


The Harrisburg girls will play for third place in their own tournament on Saturday after falling 60-51 to Class 4 Hallsville in the semifinals on Wednesday night.

Harrisburg, seeded third, again was without the services of four-year starter Carli Ellis, who remained sidelined for the second game in a row with an injury. Coach Ryan Richardson said she warmed up with the team on Wednesday and will hopefully rejoin the starting lineup for the third-place game. The senior’s health will be re-evaluated before Saturday’s game against fifth-seeded Blair Oaks.

Hallsville, the second seed, moves on to face first-seeded Centralia at 6 p.m. Saturday for the championship. The Lady Indians won 66-39 after a tight first quarter over Fayette in the opening round on Monday. Centralia handily topped eighth-seeded Fulton in round one, 58-14, and took down Blair Oaks 47-44 in the semifinals to move on to the title game.

Wednesday’s game exposed Harrisburg’s youth in the absence of Carli Ellis, a senior who is closing in on 1,000 career points.

“She’s a big piece of what we do,” Richards said. “She’s been a constant starter for us for four years and a role-model player, and a deep player. That’s a big piece of the puzzle that’s missing.”

The Lady Bulldogs kept the score tight against Hallsville but were constantly playing catch-up. After striking first in Wednesday’s semifinal with a quick bucket by sophomore Maci Ellis, the Lady Indians responded with a 10-0 run. Harrisburg struggled inside against Hallsville senior Haley Hagan in the paint and struck back from the outside. Sophomore Charlotte Canote and senior Brecca Thornhill each banked 3-point shots to spark a 10-point run halfway through the opening period, giving the Lady Bulldogs a 12-10 lead.

Hallsville had the last word of the first quarter with six points in the final minute to take a 16-12 lead.

Harrisburg found ways to fight back in the middle of the game. After allowing Hallsville to advance the score, Harrisburg once again rallied and tied the game at 19-19 with 2:49 on the clock on a 3-pointer by Canote. But again, the Lady Indians finished the second period with a 6-2 run to go up 25-21 at halftime.

The Lady Bulldogs sprinted out of halftime with a 7-3 run and sank all five free-throw chances in the opening minutes to tie the game at 28 apiece. After trading blows, Harrisburg would eventually outscore the Lady Indians 18-13 in the third quarter to take a 39-38 lead into the final stanza.

But this time, it was Hallsville that would pull ahead from long range. The Lady Indians outscored Harrisburg 15-9, even suffering from a lopsided 11-3 foul count in favor of the host team.

Leading by seven, Hallsville senior Peyton Thoenen all but delivered the coup de grace with a three-point play with three minutes left to play. The bucket and bonus free throw sparked a 7-0 run to the one-minute mark to put the Lady Indians in front 59-47.

Freshman Jaidyn Stephenson hit a three with 49 seconds left to just keep Harrisburg's chances alive. But Hallsville responded by knocking down a pair of free throws seconds later to end the hopes of a late rally by the home team.

Richardson called Hallsville a great team that shoots well and finds ways to win. “I told our girls at the end of the game that we played at a very high level, but we executed at a very poor level. We had some very specific things in our game plan that we wanted to look at. And I thought we did that for most of the game. When things got a little bit tight, we got a little bit tired and lost our mindset.”

Harrisburg struggled to contain Hagan inside. The senior led all scorers with 17 points, 16 of which came in the paint.

Hagan’s dominance under the basket forced Harrisburg to shoot from the outside. But the Hallsville guards did a solid job of protecting from the perimeter.

Harrisburg did manage to make six shots from the 3-point distance, led by Canote with a team-high 14 points with four shots from the arc.

“Charlotte Canote has been maybe the brightest star the last week and a half,” Richardson said.

Also finishing in double figures for Harrisburg was Abby Rosson with 11 points. The junior finished 7-for-8 from the line.

Maci Ellis tallied eight, followed by senior Brecca Thornhill with seven on a five-for-six performance from the line. Junior Emma Fischer scored seven points with a 3-pointer in the first quarter and four third-quarter points. Freshman Jaidyn Stephenson rounded out the Lady Bulldogs’ scorers with a 2-pointer in the fourth quarter.

Harrisburg finished 16-for-25 from the line.

"We have a lot more depth than we even thought we did. Even though it’s hard right now, I think we’re going to come out better,” said Richardson.

Hagan’s game-high 17 points paced four Lady Indians in double figures. Senior Madysen Lucas sank a team-best four 3-pointers and finished 2-for-3 from the line to rack up 14 points. Theonen and senior Kristen Jones each scored 11 points. Hallsville scored 12 of its 61 points from the free-throw line on 17 chances.

Hallsville improves to 14-3 on the season heading into Saturday’s championship game against Centralia (15-3). The Lady Indians lost the last meeting between the two teams in the title game of the Centralia Tournament on December 8.

Harrisburg slips to 10-9 overall and will face fifth-seeded Blair Oaks for third place at 3 p.m. on Saturday in the high school gym. The Falcons narrowly fell to top-seeded Centralia 47-44 in Wednesday’s semifinals.

“They are a big team, and they’re tall,” said Richardson about Blair Oaks. “They shoot the ball well, and they gave Centralia everything they wanted and almost won that game. We’ll have our hands full.”


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