Harrisburg Breaks Out As 3A’s Most Surprising Team As Christmas Nears

Harrisburg — Fly high Eagles! Sitting at 6-0 entering the Cascade Christian Tournament in Medford, the Harrisburg Eagles already have more wins than they did in the entire Spring season. In 2019, Harrisburg went 20-8 and made an appearance at state. With six seniors and a winnable conference ahead, the 2021 edition of those Eagles have a chance to replicate the successes of that before them.

Looking on film, this team isn’t one you would think sits at 6-0. They don’t have an overwhelming defense or blitz offensive play; they look like your normal basketball team on the court. However, what they are is a balanced, smart, opportunistic team that does what they can and takes what they’re given. In the end, those are the types of squads that outsmart the opposition that focus heavily on one side of the ball. One of my favorite things about Harrisburg is that not one player rules the floor, its literally where anyone can shine on any given night. Sure, there are players better than others, but on the floor their chemistry blends in to where they aid one another and play balanced gameplay.

Jenna Traw stands out as the leader of the squad on film. She has intangibles defensively that coaches love: Anticipation and action. She knows where to be and when to take risks to make the big play. On offense, she can go outside or inside, using her frame to draw fouls, set a screen, or doing anything else to aid her teammates. Emmalee Smathers is a rising star for Harrisburg, her size and tactical abilities on offense make her a player to always have a target on if you’re the opponent. She’ll set the screen, get her teammate loose, then do a backdoor burn for the bucket. Delaney Buzzard, Holli Hill, Ali Holland, and Haidyn Bucher all make complimentary pieces that really bring this team together on both ends of the ball.

Overall, the Eagles are a squad that plays smart, doesn’t make many mistakes, doesn’t foul a lot, and I believe can hang around with most of 3A. There are liabilities with this team: Rebounding and free throws. Despite having a bigger roster, they get beat by smaller teams who are more aggressive in their chase for rebounds, which will hurt them against great teams like Sutherlin. Their free throw shooting is lackluster to put it nicely, and when you draw as many shooting fouls as these ladies do, that’s a lot of missed points up on the scoreboard. Free throws are all psychological and not everyone is great at them, but if they can flip this liability into a threat, then 3A is in trouble with how many shots at the line these ladies can get in a game. If Harrisburg cleans up their liabilities and keeps showcasing their strengths, then they’ll be a dark horse threat in the 3A field this winter. Keep an eye on the Eagles as we head into 2022!

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