EDWARDSVILLE — Time after time Edwardsville High School seniors Tre' Harris and Garret Covington took several quick steps during a practice drill Wednesday, then shot 3-pointers over the outstretched arms of assistant coach Spencer Stewart.
Stewart had additional length for the players to shoot over, holding a pair of long red pads to add an extra degree of difficulty.
Needing to make 10 3-pointers between them in a minute and a half, Covington and Harris swished eight in a row before a miss. They got the 10 easily, then did the drill again with coach Mike Waldo's ever-present voice in their ears.
That type of precision and execution helps explain why the Edwardsville Tigers (29-2) are one of four teams at the Class 4A state finals this weekend.
"We do that every day," said Harris, who has surpassed 1,300 career points along with Covington. "We definitely put in the work, it's not by accident at all. Coach's work ethic definitely rubs off on us, he's definitely not going to let us rest up in practice.
"I'd say we work harder than any team in the state and we're always in here putting in the work."
Harris, Covington and fellow senior Drew Curtis are part of the Tigers' 6-foot-5 versatile and hostile perimeter-oriented machine.
"The good strength of our team is our guys can all dribble, pass and shoot and they're all good decision makers," Tigers coach Mike Waldo said. "That helps you run the offense well."
The Tigers also have elusive point guard Shawn Roundtree as the distributor and 6-5 junior Armon Fletcher as a finisher around the basket.
"In our offense, everybody's touching the ball," Covington said. "We just keep passing it and working the ball around ... if they double-team one of us or if they come off and help too much, somebody's open for a shot."
And in Edwardsville's spread offense, it seems like someone is always open.
"When you have good action on offense and you can execute that action, that just makes it so much better," Curtis said. "The size definitely helps you get over the top, too."
Headed to Western Illinois University, Covington averages 18.4 points per game and is hitting 55 percent of his 3-point tries (100-for-182). Harris also has Division I interest and averages 17.1 points and 9.4 rebounds with 63 3-pointers.
Curtis is the team's leading rebounder at 9.5 per game and averages 5.8 points, with Roundtree (9.9 points and 9.3 assists per game) and Fletcher (10.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game) also integral factors.
Curtis, Harris and Roundtree even live in the same Glen Carbon subdivision.
"It's incredible, three of us live within an eighth-of a mile of each other," Curtis said. "Our parents talked about putting up a sign in front of the neighborhood -- The Huntington Place boys"
Tre' Harris is the third Robert Lamont Harris to play for the Tigers. Grandfather Robert Harris, Sr., was the first, followed by Tre' Harris' father, Robert Harris, Jr., who played on coach Mike Waldo's first team at Edwardsville.
An uncle, Jon Harris, was an all-state player for the Tigers who later played at Marquette. Jon Harris is now an assistant on Cuonzo Martin's coaching staff at the University of Tennessee.
"Me and my brother are the last ones left," Tre' Harris said, referring to Tigers' sophomore Jordan Harris. "It's great, they're my biggest fans -- and it's great to carry on the tradition of my family around here.
"It's great to do something no one in my family's ever done before and I'm just blessed that I can carry on our name like this."
Among the schools Harris is considering are Chicago State, Houston Baptist, Georgia State, Eastern Illinois and Drake.
Waldo sees a bit of Harris' uncle and father in his game.
"Both of them are tenacious rebounders -- and Robbie Harris was a tenacious rebounder, too," Waldo said.
Tre' Harris' ability as a shut-down defender and being able to score inside and outside certainly enhances his scholarship opportunities.
Versatility is also a strong suit for Covington, who shot up nearly a foot from junior high to sophomore year.
"He brings it every day to practice," Waldo said. "He plays hard every day, he's attentive and enthusiastic. That's the best thing he brings to us. The best leaders lead by example and Covington definitely leads by example."
Covington's family also has a proud basketball past.
His mother, Arlene Jones Covington, left Centralia High as that school's leading scorer in the early 1980s with more than 1,600 points. She also played college basketball.
Garret Covington's family moved to Edwardsville from Centralia when he was in the fifth grade. An older brother, Mart Covington, played basketball there as a senior and helped the Tigers reach the 2006 state tourney.
Covington's older sister, 6-2 Anya Covington, was an all-state player at Edwardsville who earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors at Wisconsin. She now plays professionally for a team in Germany.
Garret's younger sister is Aaliyah Covington, a standout junior guard on Edwardsville's nationally ranked girls basketball team.
After the 3-point drill ended Wednesday, the Tigers moved on to weightlifting and listened to scouting reports and motivational talks.
All that's left now are the games -- two games at Peoria's Carver Arena this weekend that will determine the Tigers' legacy in school history.
"It means everything," Covington said. "It's what we've played for this whole season,to make it to the big dance. All our effort and practices and hard work went into getting us where we're at today."