Harrisburg basketball looks to the final four

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HARRISBURG – What seemed improbable in January is now a possibility for Harrisburg.

Friday afternoon, signs sat outside the school with each player’s name and number on them. Inside, a pep rally is ongoing. As the team has the chance to do exactly what the signs say, which is finish the mission.

“Their intensity level is sky high right now and they’re just fighting for another day of practice,” Head Coach Steve Combs said.

After winning the state basketball championships in both 2006 and 2008, Harrisburg has yet to return to the final four for the state playoffs.

But the bulldogs watched its team win in dramatic fashion over Clopton High School, 58-57, last Saturday. This thanks large in part to some late game heroics from Junior Cade Combs. Now the team is two games away from winning the class two district eight state title.

“It’s just an exciting time for Harrisburg,” Steve Combs said.

Despite the team struggling a bit early on in the season, Cade Combs said the difficult games the team played only helped them to get better.

“It was really tough, but we knew they’d pay off in the long run. To have all those tough games and play all those bigger team, [it taught] us to compete and play hard throughout the season,” said Cade Combs.

Cade Combs and fellow teammate, Senior Brendan Gray both joined the 1,000-point club within a week of each other. Gray made it first, then Combs followed him.

Gray said the opportunity to play in a final four game would mean the world to him.

“I’m ready, I want to make it to final four. I want to finish the mission as they say,” Gray said. “Ever since we were little… we all said we wanted to be there one day.”

Gray’s head coach has been in his life for the last seven years, when he first started coaching him. When asked about what that is like, he said “It’s great, I mean I think he knows exactly what we need to do from past experience.”

Besides being the head coach, Combs is also Harrisburg High School’s principal, as well as the father of Cade Combs. The younger Combs said the opportunity to play for his father has never been lost on him.

“He’s just always been there for me; he’s been my biggest fan. He’s been there as a coach, been there as a father,” Cade Combs said.

“To see those kids go from the ones cheering on the sidelines to the ones getting it done on the court is really exciting,” Steve Combs said.

Now father, son and town get to come together as the team tries and makes a run to the state championship game.

A town that Steve Combs said is behind them all the way.

“To come out and support us like we do, it’s just amazing and it makes me proud to be from Harrisburg,” Steve Combs said.

Harrisburg will play this Thursday against Crane high school at 5 p.m. in the Hearnes Center.