Sixth-seeded Cougars take third at St. Elmo Tourney

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By Andrew Harner

ST. ELMO – South Central didn’t play its best basketball against Beecher City in the third-place game of the St. Elmo Holiday Tournament.

But coach Rick Simmons was still pleased with his team after it won third place with a 41-35 win against Beecher City on Saturday.

“We still have to get our offense better,” Simmons said. “We aren’t very crisp on offense, but we did a decent job on defense, even though we don’t play zone very often.”

Leading scorer Fischer Tharp finished well below his season scoring average with a team-high 10 points, but he was bailed out by two teammates who had their best games of the season.

Senior Joel Rose scored a career-high nine points, and freshman Brett Harmeier made a pair of 3-pointers on his way to a career-best eight points.

“We needed more scoring,” Simmons said. “Brett made a couple of big threes, and we got Joel in situations where he felt comfortable.”

Harmeier was a prolific scorer in junior high at St. Peter, but that has yet to translate to high school.

But that could be changing, as Harmeier increased his season scoring five-fold in the final two games of the SEHT.

“He’s been tenative to shoot, and is trying to be the freshman out there who isn’t seen,” Simmons said. “We’ve been telling to him the last three or four games to cut it loose and play.

“We know what he is capable of,” he said. “We see it every day in practice.”

Harmeier nailed two 3-pointers in the third quarter, one on the first possession and the other four minutes later, helping the Cougars take a 22-15 lead after leading by just a point at halftime.

South Central (3-4) wouldn’t lead by less than four points after that, save for a pair of fourth-quarter possessions.

With a 30-27 lead with 4:29 left in the game, Harmeier took a charge on defense, and the Cougars turned that into a layup for senior Rudy Hablewitz.

When Beecher City came down the floor to try to answer, Tharp took a charge, and the Cougars turned that into a layup for Rose.

“I said, ‘Stand in there and take one,’” Simmons said. “We knew (Beecher City) would penetrate a lot, and we were there to make a big play.”

In the final 3:05 of the game, the Cougars made 7-of-8 free throws to seal the win.

It was only the fourth time that South Central had attempted that many free throws in a whole game, a number that Simmons would like to see improved.

“We haven’t been getting to the free throw line, because we haven’t been aggressive on offense,” he said.

Box score
Saturday, Dec. 15
Third-place game
South Central 41
Beecher City 35
S: 8-6-12-15—41
B: 7-6-5-17—35
Points: Tharp, 10; Rose, 9; Rudy Hablewitz, 8; Harmeier, 8; Austin Schwarm, 4; Chase Riley, 2.
Rebounds: Tharp, 6; Hablewitz, 5; Rose, 2; Harmeier, 2; Riley, 2; Schwarm, 2; Team, 2.
Assists: Hablewitz, 4; Rose, 2; Tharp, 2.
Steals: Tharp, 4; Hablewitz, 1; Harmeier, 1; Rose, 1; Schwarm, 1.
Record: 3-4