COLUMBIA — In state championship games it can come down to which team has a player have the kind of game that boys dream of while shooting on their driveway hoops.
Harrisburg (28-3) junior forward Cory Via had one of those days. He scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Bulldogs to a 51-44 victory Saturday over South Iron (30-2) in the MSHSAA Class 2 boys basketball championship game at Mizzou Arena.
“He is a warrior,” Harrisburg coach Steve Combs said.
Combs said that he always pushed Via hard in practice and Via would respond positively every time.
In Harrisburg’s semifinal win over Clever, junior guard Josh Taylor led the team in points and rebounds. Senior guard Taylor Perrigo is the team’s leading scorer this season. Both were held in check Saturday night, but that didn’t slow the Bulldogs.
“We got players who can do it all,” Via said. Senior guard Corey Sublett agreed, saying whoever is hitting shots is the go-to-guy that game.
South Iron led 21-18 at halftime despite having its leading scorer, senior guard/forward David Prater, on the court for only three minutes because of foul trouble.
“South Iron is definitely not a one-man team. We just couldn’t take advantage of it,” Combs said of Prater’s foul trouble.
Combs said he told his players at halftime that they needed to play “Harrisburg basketball.” The Bulldogs did just that in the third quarter. Right after South Iron took their biggest lead at 24-19, Harrisburg countered with a 14-0 run that took less than three minutes. South Iron battled back to tie at 44 with 1:02 left, but Harrisburg took the lead for good soon after. Prater led the Panthers’ comeback with 14 second-half points. He finished with 17.
The state title is the second in three years for the Bulldogs.
“I’m really proud of our program right now. It’s really hard to maintain a high level,” Combs said.