Eli Taborn-Scott becomes first player in EHT history to go 16-0 as player

Duff-Kingston Gymnasium has played host to not only some of the best teams in Illinois, but at the same time, some of the best players the Land of Lincoln have seen.

The gym itself is named after two legends of the hardwood in Eldorado's Mike Duff and Kevin Kingston, not to mention the constant churring of stars the gym produces during the Eldorado Holiday Tournament.

But for four years, no one player has had more success than any other with maybe the exception of one.

On a night where records were meant to be broken, Harrisburg's Eli Taborn-Scott stepped up and delivered the Bulldogs a package that pales into comparison to any christmas gift that could be given.

The senior forward went out as the only player to never lose a ball game during the Eldorado Holiday Tournament, scoring 16 points and helping Harrisburg to a 85-77 win over Meridian for the school's fourth straight EHT championship.

That's a record 16-0 for Taborn-Scott during the post Christmas tournament and the senior, after scoring 16 points in the win, now has 1,072 points in his career and ranks ninth all time on the scoring list.

For Taborn-Scott, he said the milestone hasn't quite caught up with him yet.

"It's pretty surreal, but it means a lot. When we lost to Massac County earlier in the year, there was this perception that we weren't going to be as good as we were last year and we're still living up to some of the expectations from last year, but last year's team didn't win four straight titles either."

Harrisburg has now won 20 in a row at Duff-Kingston and 23 of the last 24 dating back to 2009.

To better put things into perspective, Harrisburg has lived in the championship game for the better part of a decade, winning four out of the last five.

"It's something that we talked about before the game; that these guys actually had the chance to make history, because no one has ever done that and it's a difficult thing to do," Harrisburg head coach Randy Smithpeters said."

"That speaks to the groups of players that we have had here at Harrisburg that a kid like Eli Tabon-Scott has played in the EHT and has never lost a game."

Playing before a packed-house, Harrisburg and Meridian, playing as the No. 2 and No. 1 seeds respectively, lived up to the hype, despite having a 15-point lead in the second half, Harrisburg watched as the Bobcats trimmed to lead to four after David Davis made it a 67-63 ball game with 4:25 to play.

On the ensuing possession, Taborn-Scott dished a sweet pass to Jake Simerly, who connected on the And-1, giving Harrisburg a 70-63 advantage with 3:28 to play.

Davis got Meridian to 78-75 with 43 seconds to play, but the Bulldogs took care of business from the free throw line, going 11-15 in the fourth quarter.

Smithpeters said there wasn't any philosphy changes made in the second half, but cited his team's intent to play to protect the lead rather than play to increase the lead.

"What we did do that we didn't want to was go a little soft and a little lackadasical," Smithpeters said. "We spent a lot of time with our offense at around the half line and that's something we didn't want to do. We wanted to attack the basket the entire second half and we kind of backed off from doing that. It's a natural thing to do, it's something that we have to learn not to do."

Harrisburg's Bahari Amaya scored a team-high 19 points and along the way picked up Most Valuable Player honors from the EHT.

The 6-foot-4 junior is happy to reap in the rewards, but also share in the glory with his team.

"I feel like I worked my tail off in this tournament," Amaya said. "But, we have a bunch of team chemistry with everyone playing so well together and everyone knowing where the other person is going to be on the court. This is a great feeling and proud to be a part of team that can keep this thing going."

Anfernee Houston's 25 points were a game-high for Harrisburg, while Jarren Goldman finished with 14 points, Simerly tossed in seven and Corbin Crim had four points.

Meridian was led by three players as Justin Prewitt, Davarae Edmonds and David Davis all scored 21 points.

Harrisburg shot 29-of-46 from the field, limiting Meridian to 30-of-60 and the Bulldogs out rebounded 30-21.

Meridian 15 17 16 29 — 77

Harrisburg 23 22 15 25 — 85

Meridian: Weldon 0-5 2-3 2, Prewitt 9-11 3-4 21, Schofner 0-2 0-0 0, Edmonds 7-10 5-6 21, Davis 8-19 3-6 21, Powell 1-4 0-0 2, Schaal 4-11 0-0 10. Totals: 30-60 13-19 77.

Harrisburg: Houston 8-10 6-8 25, Goldman 6-9 2-5 14, Simerly 2-3 3-3 7, Amaya 6-11 3-6, Scott 6-7 4-5 16, Crim 1-5 2-4 4, Street 0-1 0-0 0, Batts 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 29-46 20-31 85.

3-pointers: Meridian 4-10 (Weldon 0-1, Prewitt 0-2, Schoffner 0-1, Edmonds 0-1, Davis 2-7, Powell 0-2, Schaal 2-8), Harrisburg 7-11 (Houston 3-4, Amaya 4-6, Street 0-1). Turnovers: Meridian 9, Harrisburg 17. Rebounds: Meridian 21, Harrisburg 30. Fouls: Meridian 23, Harrisburg 16.