PEKIN — After hitting their first four shots Friday, the Edwardsville Tigers were well on their way to the Class 4A Normal Super-Sectional.
The Tigers rode a 24-2 run in the first half and made school history by winning their second straight sectional title with a crushing 71-45 victory over Rock Island at the Pekin Sectional.
"It's great to do something nobody's ever done before, always," Harris said. "It's just a great feeling. We said at the beginning of the year we know what we want to do, but we're definitely not satisfied."
The early assault on the offensive end included two 3-pointers by Tre' Harris, another by Drew Curtis and an 8-for-13 shooting performance in the opening quarter.
Harris led the Tigers (29-2) with 22 points, but they also got 16 from Armon Fletcher, 15 from Garret Covington and 12 from Curtis.
Edwardsville moves on to the Normal Super-Sectional at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena on Tuesday, where the Tigers saw their 2011-12 season ended a year ago with a 53-41 loss to Bloom Township.
This time they will face (Chicago Heights) Marian at 7:30 p.m. Marian knocked off Bloom 50-46 on Friday to win the Harvey Thornton Sectional.
Harris said the Tigers fed off that early shooting frenzy and they used it as fuel the rest of the night. They were 17-for-26 (65 percent) from the floor at halftime while building a 40-20 lead and finished the night 27-for-44 (61 percent).
"Definitely," Harris said. "The first shot's the biggest shot ever, so hitting your first shot is always a confidence booster. When we come out and we hit our first shots, we're going to be in a real good flow and feel real good about ourselves."
Edwardsville coach Mike Waldo said the key was the patience his team showed against Rock Island's pressure. An extra pass typical led to an open shot -- which typically went in.
"They played a lot of man-to-man, but they did some switching and some helping from some difference places," Waldo said. "I thought we really did a good job early in the game of running our offense well and making one more pass. That's how we got a lot of open shots was making one more pass against their pressure."
Edwardsville cooled off a bit after hitting its first four shots and jumping out to an early 11-5 lead, but the Tigers quickly caught fire again.
Riding the scoring of Harris, Covington and Shawn Roundtree, the Tigers roared through a 24-2 run that left the Rocks in a 35-12 hole.
"Edwardsville's a great team, played really well," Rock Island coach Thom Sigel said after his team's season ended at 25-5. "I wish them all the best because I think they can go do some things next week."
Edwardsville hit 17-of-26 shots in the first half, including four of seven from 3-point range. Brian Richardson had 11 of Rock Island's 20 points in the first half, but never scored again.
Harris helped hold lightning-quick Rock Island guard C.J. Carr to 10 points, shutting him out in the first half.
"Tre's defense on (Carr) was real big in the game, because most of the game he had trouble getting all the way to the basket," Waldo said.
Waldo also praised the rebounding of Curtis and Fletcher, both of whom punished the Rocks on the boards.
"Those guys really did a good job of defensive rebounding for us," Waldo said. "I thought both of those guys played excellent games, which they have all year."
Sigel saw an athletic, quick and strong Edwardsville team with balanced scoring, the same one he continued to notice while scouting.
"I watched about five tapes of them doing all that," Sigel said. "They have a lot of good players and right off the bat they started hitting their shots. They're an experienced group, they've been to this spot last year and won the sectional. I thought their experience showed.
"When they got the lead they were really able to dictate things."
Waldo's teams are known for execution and they delivered that message at nearly flawless level Friday.
"They prepared well for this game and I think they'll do that again," he said. "You've always got to feel happy and a little bit fortunate to still be playing at this time of the year. We'll appreciate it and we'll try to do the best we can Tuesday to get ready."