St. Elizabeth figures to have hands full with Harrisburg

With the season off to a 1-6 start, it’s not exactly the opportune time for the St. Elizabeth boys basketball team to be playing a perennial state power.

But that’s exactly the scenario facing the Hornets today in the Missouri National Guard Shootout.

When St. Elizabeth takes to the court at 2:30 p.m. at Fleming Fieldhouse, the foe will be the always tough Harrisburg Bulldogs. As in the Harrisburg Bulldogs that made five trips to the Class 2 Final Four from 2003-09, winning state titles in 2006 and 2008.

St. Elizabeth coach Nick Voss got to see the Bulldogs in person Thursday, as Harrisburg dropped South Callaway by a 73-58 margin.

“They put a lot of pressure on the ball, and they’ve got one especially good player (6-foot-4 senior Jacob Rudkin), and any time he’s in the paint, the ball’s going up and it’s going in,” Voss said. “They’re a pretty solid ball club, I was very impressed.”

Rudkin’s size could be a big problem (no pun intended) for the Hornets, whose biggest player is 6-2 Travis Miner.

“And Travis only weighs about 170 pounds, and he’s having to go against kids that are 6-4, 210,” Voss said. “We’re short and I knew going into the season rebounding would be hard this year. That’s been our primary focus.”

If there’s another focus for the Hornets, it’s been trying to put together a four-quarter effort during their 1-5 start.

“We’re struggling to play a complete game,” Voss said. “We usually play two good quarters, and lately we’ve started playing three, but we still can’t put a whole game together. Usually we have a quarter where we only score three, four or five points, and that’s not good.”

Part of that is the team’s inexperience.

“Varsity-wise, there’s just not a lot of experience on the team,” Voss said. “We’ve got one guy who’s been playing varsity for three years and one who played just last year. Everybody else is being thrown in the fire. … There’s definitely some growing pains going on.”

The Hornets have two players averaging double figures in scoring, as point guard Braydon Holtmeyer is at 17 points per contest and shooting guard Brian Wilde puts in 13 points per game. Miner leads the team in rebounding with seven per contest.

“We have some trouble scoring,” Voss said. “We’ve got to keep teams in the 50s or 60s to have chance of competing.”

Harrisburg brings a record of 5-2 into the contest, having posted wins against Macon, Slater, New Franklin, Southern Boone and South Callaway. The Bulldogs’ losses have come to Cairo and Moberly.


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