Harrisburg Hoops Starts With AAU

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By WSIL Sports

HARRISBURG -- Harrisburg junior Capel Henshaw doesn't mind being called a gym rat. Neither does his teammate Tyler Smithpethers.

"Compared to other team's in the past we've got people here that have spent a lot of time in the gym," Bulldogs head coach Randy Smithpeters said.

Both Henshaw and Smithpeters spent their summer traveling the midwest playing AAU basketball, competing against some of the best competition in the country. Henshaw played for the Illinois Warriors, a team out of Chicago. Smithpeters suited up for the Southwestern Illinois Jets from Belleville.

"It's just better competition, people that actually want to play," Smithpeters said.

"It helps you prepare for high school because everyone's bigger and quicker and that's how it's going to be after high school if you go on to play at the next level," Henshaw added.

Bulldogs sophomore Eli Taborn-Scott also played AAU this summer. Scott is up two inches from last year at 6'4 and has added about five pounds of muscle. He's says the extra games helped him feel more comfortable coming into high school and getting ready for this season.

"I was really nervous," Scott said. "It's so much different jumping from like 8th grade to varsity basketball."

The Bulldogs will need all three players this season. Harrisburg returns three starters to last year's team that won 26 games before losing in the sectional finals to Murphysboro. The Bulldogs are still young, starting only one senior, but are more mature and experienced, ready to make another deep run in the postseason.

"We were young last year and realized we were under the radar and our purpose last year was to really just play and get better, and we did do that and we had a great year, but we know this year we are going to be the team with the target on their back," said coach Smithpeters.

A challenge these gym rats don't mind hearing.
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