Bulldogs, Panthers hand Indians losses
Braeden Pursell glides in for a layup against Harrisburg. (Doug Daniels photo)
By Doug Daniels
(Du Quoin, Ill.) - The Indians couldn't come up with a win in either of their home games this past weekend, but showed signs of their potential while dropping games with No. 2-ranked Pinckneyville, 73-60 on Friday, and Harrisburg, a team also receiving votes in the AP Poll, 57-55 on Saturday.
Du Quoin was stuck playing from behind all night against the Panthers, who poured in five first-quarter triples and led by as many as 16 before Braeden Pursell's shot at the buzzer brought the Indians to within 24-10.
DHS built off of that boost of momentum, as four free throws from Lamontay Daughtery and a pair of buckets by Josh Heape - one a three-pointer - brought them to within five at 24-19. But Daughtery picked up his second foul on a double-foul call with Pinckneyville's Nolan Luke with 5:42 to go in the half and had to sit the rest of the period.
With Daughtery out, Heape picked up the scoring for the Indians, hitting two more threes before the break to keep Du Quoin within striking distance at 44-29, but the Panthers were able to extend it back to an 18-point cushion by the end of the third and remained unbeaten on the season.
Daughtery and Heape did their part to make it a ball-game, each putting up 25 points for the Indians. Pursell and Will Woodside each added 5 points, Ashton Smith had 2.
A night later against Harrisburg, Du Quoin fought to the wire with the Bulldogs, rallying back from an 8 point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to get an opportunity to tie on the game's final possession, but having Pursell's floater in the lane fall off the mark.
"We had a chance, we got a shot, it just didn't go down for us," said DHS head coach Justin Barrington. "We dug ourselves too big of a hole in the third quarter. We weren't rotating defensively, they were getting some easy points. Give credit to their guys, they moved the basketball sharper in the third quarter than they did in the first and second quarter. Our guys dug in defensively in the fourth quarter, and they scored one field goal the whole fourth quarter. You can't play defense on free throws, and that's how they scored down the stretch. When we were able to play half court defense we were able to get stops, we strung together about four or five consecutive stops. That's what we've got to have moving forward."
The Indians were in command early with Daughtery on fire from the field. His three-pointer was part of an 11-4 run to start the game for Du Quoin, and the sophomore sensation finished the first quarter with 13 points.
But Harrisburg started scoring, too, doing a lot of it from the free throw line. The Indians made their share of trips there too, as the two squads combined to take 17 charity tosses in the second quarter. At the break, the game was knotted at 24-24.
The Bulldogs came out of the break hot and were able to build an eight-point lead heading to the fourth quarter, but a three by Heape cut the lead down to six, and a free throw from Hank Stewart made it a five-point game with just over six minutes to play.
Harrisburg chose to work the game clock and let the fouls pile up on Du Quoin late in the contest, a strategy that paid off when Bulldogs made 6-of-8 at the line in the final three minutes.
A late turnover that led to a layup by Shamar Adams with 15 seconds to go brought the Indians to within a point, and a free throw by highly-touted Isaiah Saulsberry put Harrisburg back up two with 12.2 seconds to go. Du Quoin got a shot off, but came up empty.
Adams held Saulsberry in check defensively for most of the night and earned praise from Barrington after the game.
"This is the second straight Saturday where he's held a kid averaging 25 a game to less than half his average," Barrington said. "(Saulsberry) didn't make a shot outside of the paint other than free throws tonight. That's a credit to Shamar. He was making him catch it at 25 feet when he was catching the basketball. Shamar is a tremendous defender, he's one of the best in the south, there's no question about it."
Barrington added that he felt despite the team taking two losses, a lot was showed and gained by what the team accomplished against two quality opponents.
"Our youth showed at times, but at other times we showed the potential of what our team can be," said Barrington. "You don't want to be best basketball in December. We want to get two wins next week and go into the Duster Thomas on a positive note. We got a pool draw with two teams we haven't played, that we don't play."
Daughtery led DHS against Harrisburg with 22 points, Pursell had 12, Heape 10.