Teutopolis coach Andy Fehrenbacher knew the big three of Harrisburg would be tough to stop. Tyler Smithpeters, Capel Henshaw and Eli Taborn-Scott had had their way with opposing defenses before, and Tuesday's super-sectional battle at SIU Arena was no different.
The talented trio combined to score 63 of the Bulldogs' 77 points as Harrisburg, the top-ranked team in Class 2A, outpaced Teutopolis for a 77-66 victory.
"One of the best things that they do is their transition game," Fehrenbacher said. "We knew what to expect. They really push the ball down the floor, they have a lot of offensive weapons."
The Wooden Shoes' defense struggled to contain Harrisburg in the first quarter, surrendering 21 points as the Bulldogs got to the basket with relative ease. Harrisburg closed the opening period with six quick points off buckets from Smithpeters and Taborn-Scott before Bahari Bjornsson's jumper made it a 21-16 game after one.
"We were not getting stops," Fehrenbacher said. "We weren't rotating well early on, and defensively that was a major concern."
Teutopolis hung tough for the first quarter, thanks to 10 points from Jared Waldhoff and an opportunistic offense. Teutopolis scored seven points off turnovers in the opening half, and Derek Smith's baseline drive off a quick outlet pass made it a 23-22 ballgame in favor of the Bulldogs midway through the second.
"[The problem] wasn't necessarily the offense," Fehrenbacher said. "We could have made a few more shots, but we got whatever we wanted."
Teutopolis shot 48 percent from the floor in the opening half, getting solid looks at the bucket almost every time down the court. Waldhoff dropped 13 points by halftime, and Kyle Pruemer had worked the paint down low for six points of his own.
But the Wooden Shoes couldn't find the answer defensively. Harrisburg went on a 16-4 in the second quarter to extend its one-point lead into a 39-27 game with 2:08 to play in the half. All three of Harrisburg's main offensive weapons scored in double figures by halftime, with Smithpeters and Henshaw scoring 13 apiece.
Leading by ten, Taborn-Scott added a short jump shot for good measure with under a minute to play, before a Teutopolis free throw made it 41-30 at the break.
"They can score," Fehrenbacher said. "It seemed like any time we had a breakdown they would take advantage."
Harrisburg stretched the lead to as many as 16 points in the third quarter, as Teutopolis couldn't bring the game back within single digits. The Bulldogs outscored the Wooden Shoes 20-17 in the frame for a 61-47 lead with one quarter remaining. Each time Teutopolis put together four or six-straight points, Harrisburg would counter with a offensive outburst of their own to keep the game out of reach.
"When you did yourself a deep hole like that," Fehrenbacher said, "it's awful tough to come out of."
The Wooden Shoes tried to muster a comeback in the fourth, but the Bulldogs got to the foul line early and often to fend off any late charge. Harrisburg shot 14 more free throws than Teutopolis in the contest, making 19 of 31 for a respectable 61 percent mark.
The loss marked the end to a superb, 28-4 season for Teutopolis. The Wooden Shoes' seniors have accounted for 110 wins in their four years of high school, and Fehrenbacher said that's certainly nothing to sulk about.
"I'm super proud of my seniors," he said. "We've had some of these seniors on our varsity team for three years. They've won three regionals and three sectionals."
Waldhoff finished with a team-high 17 points for Teutopolis, and Smith added 16 points of his own. Pruemer completed the Wooden Shoes players in double figures with his 13-point effort. Teutopolis has now fallen short in the round of eight for the past three seasons.
Harrisburg was led by Smithpeters' 25-point outing. Taborn-Scott also topped 20 points, scoring 21 for the Bulldogs. The top-ranked team in the state will play in Friday's state semifinals in Peoria.
Harrisburg 77, Teutopolis 66
Harrisburg 21 20 20 16 - 77
Teutopolis 16 14 17 19 - 66
Harrisburg - Smithpeters 25, Taborn-Scott 21, Henshaw 17, Amaya 5, Roper 4, Bjornsson 3, Upchurch 2.
Teutopolis - Waldhoff 17, Smith 16, Pruemer 13, Falbe 7, Hardiek 5, Mette 3, Will 3, Schultz 2.