In the spirt of the holiday season, one thing is certain when it comes to Eldorado Holiday Tournament championships, the wealth gets shared.
Since Norris City won the first EHT title back in 1965, more than 40 different schools have taken home the championship trophy, some from another state like Kentucky, when Lone Oak did it in 1991, or Henderson County 10 years later. Ownesboro was the last team, the Red Devils won the title in 2014.
Some teams won it multiple times in the tournament's early years: Cairo (1978, 1979), Pinckneyville (1980-181), and Carmi (1985-1986), but then NCOE set a trend of three straight (1988, 1989 and 1990) that seemed untouchable.
Or maybe it was Harrisburg in the mid 2000's.
The Bulldogs fell to Meridian in the championship game in 2009, only to rattle off four straight runs from 2010-2013, where they beat Massac County (2010), Herrin (2011), Gallatin County (2012) and Meridian 92013). The Owensboro team upended Harrisburg in 2014. The Bulldogs got back to the title game twice, once in 2015, falling to Massac County and in 2017, losing to Eldorado.
Now, we look back in five-part series, (this being part three) with the most impressive EHT team as discussed among former players, coaches and some former players that are now coaches.
As bad as it pains me to admit it, for me probably the Harrisburg team with Smithpeters and Henshaw. Just joking a little! As a fan of basketball, I enjoyed watching them play. They played hard, they played unselfishly, and you could see that just really enjoyed the game. They won the EHT and went on to win a State Championship, that was a special team.
-- Josh Bradley, Eldorado head coach and former player
That 2012-2013 Harrisburg crew was pretty salty. They cruised through the tourney that year.
-- Sayler Shurtz, Herrin head coach and former Benton player
Best team was probably the group Harrisburg had that won state.
-- Mike Chamness, Anna-Jonesboro head coach and former A-J player
1980-81 Cairo Pilots, 1983-84 McLeansboro Foxes, 2012-13 Harrisburg Bulldogs
-- Erik Griffin, former Carrier Mills-Stonefort & SIU standout
Cairo in early 80's & the 83-84 McLeansboro team
-- Scott Shreffler, former Carrier Mills-Stonefort player
1983 McLeansboro Foxes that brought the big green wave of fans! They went 35-0 that year and were state champs. Brian Sloan was Mr. Basketball in Illinois, along with 3 other future college players coach by Dave Lee.
-- Doug Miller, Hamilton County coach (former NCOE, Gallatin Co. coach) & former HCHS player
Harrisburg state champ team. Their 7th and 8th man would have been a main player for any other team.
-- Scott McElravy, Fairfield head coach
I have two teams. The 2013 Bulldogs and the 1984 McLeansboro Foxes, which if you take the two teams, have a combined record of 68-1.
-- Randy Smithpeters, Harrisburg coach & former McLeansboro player
The 1993 Massac County team is the beat team I have seen at the EHT. I would guess that Reed Jackson's NCOE team would have been a handful, and possibly that Harrisburg team (Tyler Smithpeters' team). Either way, I have a stack on the 1993 Massac team.
-- John Pruett, Former Massac County player & 1993 EHT MVP
Harrisburg 2012: They had it all. The could defend, score from inside, shoot it from deep, and 4 guys on the floor that could handle the ball. They played really well together and knew their roles.
-- Jake Stewart, Harrisburg girls coach & former HHS player
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.