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Watch now: Christion Harper is a mighty presence in the paint for a 'solid but inexperienced' St. Teresa basketball team
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HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

Watch now: Christion Harper is a mighty presence in the paint for a 'solid but inexperienced' St. Teresa basketball team

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DECATUR — Friday's win for the St. Teresa's boys basketball team against Warrensburg-Latham brought back memories for Bulldogs sophomore forward Christion Harper. 

Harper came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points. While Bulldogs senior Sammy Tapscott provided the 3-point threat and junior Zahki Hayes brought the energy, Harper was a bull under the basket, just as he was on the 2019 Class 8 2A state championship winning team for Decatur Robertson

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St Teresa's Christion Harper (2) is guarded by Warrensburg-Latham Jacob Six (10 ) in the fourth quarter on Friday at St. Teresa. More photos and video at www.herald-review.com

"I was having fun and I loved the competition. I felt a lot of energy and it felt good to play how I used to play at Robertson Charter," Harper said. "It reminded me of when I was in eighth grade. I just do what I can to help the team. I think I am an energy bringer and a dominator in the paint."

St. Teresa head coach Tom Noonansaid he has big expectations for Harper as he picks up more varsity playing time. 

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St Teresa's Christion Harper (2) goes to the basket in the fourth quarter on Friday against Warrensburg-Latham at St. Teresa. More photos and video at www.herald-review.com

"We expect him to rebound well and finish around the rim. As a sophomore, he changes the game," Noonan said. "He immediately changed the game with his energy (against Warrensburg). As he gets more comfortable at the varsity level, I think he has a really really bright future."

The Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0 CIC) could have anyone on the roster step forward on any given night. In the Bulldogs' 71-60 win over Maroa on Saturday, it was senior Tim Schmidt who led with 18 points and Hayes scored 17. Hayes scored 10 points in the third quarter and Schmidt was rock solid from the line, making 8-of-10 attempts, all in the fourth quarter. Hayes scored 20 in the season opener against Clinton.

"I think of our team as solid but inexperienced. A lot of guys who were playing last year, their roles have changed," Noonan said. "We are getting a lot better. I think that with the growth we have seen in just three weeks, at the end (of the season) we could be a a really fun spot."

There were only 25 St. Teresa fans in attendance against Warrensburg, but Hayes was calling for them to cheer louder. From across the court, he was inspiring his socially distanced teammates on the bench to get more rowdy. 

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St Teresa Zahki Hayes (12) celebrates with the crowd in the fourth quarter on Friday against Warrensburg-Latham. More photos and video at www.herald-review.com

"He's got a passion for the game. That's one of the key things — we want guys who have a passion for the game," Noonan said. "He is a do-it-all guy and he wants the team to win. He's a hungry guy on the boards and you can hear him talking all over the court. That's what I absolutely love about him. He is one of our emotional leaders and our energy leaders and he's going to stabilize us as we go forward."

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St Teresa Zahki Hayes (12) grabs a rebound in the second quarter on Friday against Warrensburg-Latham. More photos and video at www.herald-review.com

For Harper, Hayes is his brother under the basket and he and Tapscott create opportunities for each other. 

"Zahki is another bulldozer down in the paint. He is the energy star for the team and he helps out a lot. When he and I are down in the paint, it is like Yao Ming and Shaq," Harper said. "Sammy spreads the floor a lot. He makes it so when I get it in the paint they have to double me or worry about him. If they help out (on me), I'm kicking out and he is more than likely to make it."

The St. Teresa roster had significant offseason turnover, with last year's leading scorers Christian Stoner and Terron Reed no longer with the team. In Friday's game against Warrensburg, Tapscott faced former teammate and close friend Brody Danner, who transferred to Warrensburg. 

"We have been friends for a while and I've known him since he was three. It was fun to play against him. It was a great game," Tapscott said. "(This season) it is me, Tim Schmidt and Chord Miller (as seniors) and we are just getting the team ready for every single game."

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St Teresa head coach Tom Noonan calls plays in the second quarter on Friday against Warrensburg-Latham. More photos and video at www.herald-review.com

In Friday's game, St. Teresa responded to a hot first quarter from Warrensburg and hung on as the Cardinals tightened the game in the fourth quarter. 

"We stayed calm and we practiced it a lot, to stay calm, bring the energy and have a good response. We did very well with that in coming back," Harper said. "If we bring more intensity and more energy to practice, we will continue to grow and get better and everything will keep moving forward for us."


Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten

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