Harrisburg Hoops Awaits Football Players

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By WSIL Sports

HARRISBURG -- Harrisburg boys basketball practice started more than a week ago. But other than conditioning and shooting drills, not much has happened.

"It's hard to get too far into the X's and O's because we have over half of our team not here," Bulldogs head basketball coach Randy Smithpeters said.

Seven players on Smithpeters' roster aren't with the team, they're preparing for Saturday's semifinal football game against Rochester.

"I asked him today how they were doing and he just kind of smiled," Bulldogs head football coach Jason Roper said. "He knows that we've still got a lot of their kids here."

Quarterback Ryne Roper, receivers Capel Henshaw and Justin Younger and defensive lineman Dakota Upchurch will be key contributors on the court this winter. They're also starters on the football field.

"I've tried to focus on football as much as I can right now, that's what's most important to us," Upchurch said.

"As soon as football's over I'll definitely hop right into basketball and I'll be 100 percent ready for that," Younger added.

Even with a short transition between sports, players say it's not all bad.

"Winning in football breeds winning in basketball," Ryne Roper said. "If we go far and make a run in football, that will kind of motivate us to do the same in basketball."

"When football goes far and does well, they come in with that same attitude in basketball," Smithpeters said. "Basketball's such a long season, we may not be as good as we'd like to be early but hopefully we can end up where we want to be late."

Following football's path to the final four isn't a bad plan for the basketball team, even if it means a slow start.
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