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Harrisburg grabs crown, wins championship of Benton tournament

  • Harrisburg's Lotte Miller slides between a pair of Carterville defenders while going up for a layup during the Lady Bulldogs' victory over the Lady Lions on Friday night. Miller had 17 points to help the Lady Bulldogs win the title and remain unbeaten.

    Harrisburg's Lotte Miller slides between a pair of Carterville defenders while going up for a layup during the Lady Bulldogs' victory over the Lady Lions on Friday night. Miller had 17 points to help the Lady Bulldogs win the title and remain unbeaten.
    RICK HAYES PHOTO

 
 
updated: 12/30/2017 10:12 AM

There's a new champion of the Benton Rangerette Christmas Classic and its donning purple.

Riding the momentum of taking its only second lead of the game at the halftime break, the Lady Bulldogs took control in the third quarter while upending defending champion Carterville, 65-54, at Rich Herrin Gymnasium on Friday night.

Harrisburg's Karsyn Davis nailed a 3-point basketball around the five minute mark of the third quarter to give the Lady Bulldogs their third and final lead of the night.

After Carterville's Abbey Crain knotted the score at 41-all, the Bulldogs outscored the Lady Lions 11-5 the rest of the quarter to take a 52-46 lead into the final stanza. The Lady 'Dogs led by as many as nine points in the third quarter.

Going on a 6-0 run midway through the final quarter, Carterville had sliced the deficit to 56-54 at the three-minute mark. However, the Lady Bulldogs shut out the Lions the rest of the way. All-Tournament selection Matty Hawkins hit a jumper in the lane, teammate Lotte Miller added a three-point play and a free throw seconds apart and Karsyn Davis finished the deal with a pair of free throws with 40 seconds remaining.

Hawkins led Harrisburg's offense with 20 points. Miller and Davis both joined Hawkins on the all-tournament team, adding 17 and 14 points, respectively.

"Hats off to my kids tonight. They made the plays down the stretch when we had to have them," said Harrisburg coach Jake Stewart. "Carterville is an amazing team. They're young so how good are they going to be the next two years? They're going to be one of the best teams in the state."

Stewart said the Benton tournament should be beneficial in postseason play.

"Last night against Hamilton County we win by seven. The atmosphere was like a sectional game. Tonight, we also had a championship game atmosphere. We use this to measure where we're at in midseason. It had a sectional feel and that's what we're going to use going forward," Stewart said.

In order to remain unbeaten, the Lady Bulldogs will have to concentrate on one game at a time, according to their coach.

"We have to stay focused every night. We're not looking forward to the regional or sectional yet. We're looking forward to our next conference game Wednesday at Herrin."

Crain, also a tournament selection, led Carterville, 12-4, with 17 points. Teammate Jeniah Thompson was also named to the all-tournament squad.

In the third place game, Hamilton County defeated Pinkneyville, 62-50. Benton finished fifth and Herrin seventh.