It's an adage that is as old as time in the sports world: Defense wins championships.
And in this case for Harrisburg head coach Jake Stewart and his No. 1 2A state-ranked Bulldog girls' basketball team, defense will hopefully win him the Southern Illinois River-To-River Ohio Division.
On a night when the eighth-year head coach admitted that his team wasn't as good offensively, the defense picked up the slack and held off a late rally by Benton to win 49-37 Tuesday at Davenport Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs (10-0, 3-0 SIRR Ohio) put two players in double figures as Brooke Meylor scored a game-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, while Karsyn Davis put up 15 points, knocking down 4-of-7 from 3-point range and another 3-for-4 from the foul line to help keep Harrisburg undefeated on the season.
Defensively, Harrisburg came away with nine steals and forced Benton into 16 turnovers.
Benton was held to 37 percent shooting from the field on the night as the Rangerettes went 13-for-35. BCHS was 4-for-17 from 3-point range and hit 7-of-12 foul shots.
Ember Milby netted a team-high nine points for Benton, who falls to 6-3 on the season and are now 2-1 in league play.
Maddy Wallace and Jerkins both scored seven points, while Zoe Carlton scored six points. Addisyn Miller and Sesley Tedeschi each tacked on three points, while Macie Cockrum tossed in two points.
Essence Sanders netted nine points for Harrisburg, while Madeline Rider finished with four points. Ivy Brown and Summer Sanders both had two points, while Lauryn Gribble tossed in a free throw.
Harrisburg shot 43 percent on the night, going 17-of-39 from the field and were 5-of-11 from 3-point range, while knocking down 10-of-18 foul shots.
Benton outrebounded Harrisburg 25-21 and Harrisburg led 17-15 after a back-and-forth first quarter that saw both teams swap leads. The Bulldogs outscored Benton 10-6 in the second quarter to take a 27-21 lead into the locker room. It was much of the same as Harrisburg outscored Benton 11-6 and 11-10 in the final two quarters of the second half.
Harrisburg will now play host to Massac County on Thursday, while Benton hosts West Frankfort in another SIRR Ohio meeting. The Bulldogs will travel to Bethalto Civic Memorial on Saturday to play in the Adidas Shootout at Civic Memorial High School against Piasa Southwestern at 1:30 p.m.
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois Local Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.