The Harrisburg boys basketball team had a very hard road to travel against Carterville and Herrin in its last two games of the regular season, and it didn't get any better in the first round of the Harrisburg 2A regionals when the IHSA sent Harrisburg to Eldorado for the first round and the season ended there short of the return to Davidson Gymnasium.
"The third quarters have absolutely killed us the last few games," said Harrisburg coach Andy Fehrenbacher. "We've played pretty good first halves and been in the game and then we get waylaid in the third quarter and it's over. We're living Groundhog Day. It's just the same thing, but it's over now."
Harrisburg (11-18) started last week at Carterville (24-6) and after a good start that saw the Bulldogs lead 15-12 after the first quarter and tied at the half 24-24. But the second half was all Lions with Carterville taking a 48-38 lead into the fourth quarter and a 66-54 win.
"They got hot in the third quarter and they had a kid Blake Burkey, who is not normally one of their main scorers, hit three 3's in that quarter, and he was their leading scorer," Fehrenbacher said. "Somebody is always stepping up and exposing us and that is what happened. Carterville is peaking at the right time and I expect them to win our regional."
Camron Ande led Harrisburg with 13 points with Andrew Unthank finishing with his fourth best game of the season with 10 points and Charlie Fehrenbacher tying his third best with eight points.
Next up was Herrin (25-4) and the Tigers led the entire game taking a 13-8 lead after the first and a 22-18 lead at the half. The Bulldogs trailed 41-24 after the third quarter and lost, 45-34.
"It was 20-18 with a couple seconds left in the half and they missed the front end of a one-and-one, but we didn't block out and they got the rebound and a put-back at the buzzer," Fehrenbacher said. "It's just been little things that just do us in. Then the third quarter just killed us."
Ande was again the leading scorer with 12 points and Nate Lawrence was second with nine of which seven came at the free throw line. Unthank scored six and Frehrenbacher was held to two.
Saturday night the Bulldogs made that trip to down US-45 to start the "Harrisburg" 2A Regionals and it was a battle in the first half with scored tied 14-14 after the first quarter. The Bulldogs led by seven points midway through the second quarter before settling for a two-point lead at the half.
"They made a run to close out the first half and the second half was just bad," Fehrenbacher said.
But like the previous two games the third quarter turned the game on its ear with Eldorado (19-9) out-scoring the host Bulldogs, 20-3, to take a 51-36 into the fourth. The score at the end was 65-47 to send the Bulldogs home to run the rest of the regional as administrators and not participants.
Ande and Myles Crank cranked out 16 points each with Unthank scoring seven and Lawrence five. Fehrenbacher scored three points on a 3-pointer.