Lady Highlanders 2nd in 4-2A championship game

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Eureka Springs Lady Highlander basketball team fell to Class 2A's No. 5 Lady Rebels in the championship game of the 4-2A District Tournament on Saturday at Johnson County West Side. Front, from left, Lacy Wolfinbarger, Emily Payne, Jane Soriano, and Megan Handley. Back, from left, Elizabeth Jeppsen, Mariah Sanchez, Tanisha Morrell, Shayla Vercruysse, Shelby Sebby, Kelly Clarke, and Miranda Smith. David McNeal / Carroll County News

HARTMAN -- The Eureka Springs Lady Highlanders led for three quarters of the 4-2A District Tournament championship game on Saturday but couldn't hold off Class 2A's No. 5-ranked Johnson County West Side Lady Rebels at the end and finished runnerups.

The Lady Rebels (26-1) took a 37-33 victory when Eureka (19-15) failed to score a basket in the fourth quarter and had to foul to stop the clock.

"We missed a shot and they took the lead," Coach Aaron Hall said, "then they held the ball. It's the third time we've played them. They're 26-1 and know how to win. I was real proud of our kids."

Eureka has bragging rights of a sort. They account for that lone loss, having beaten the state-ranked Rebels in Highlander gym.

Regional at Danville

Eureka's girls, the No. 2 seed, will play Thursday at 7 p.m. against Western Yell County at the 2A West Regional in Danville. The Highlander boys, No. 4 seed, will face Hector on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

A win would send the teams on to the Class 2A State Tournament in Melbourne.

Vs. Johnson Co. West Side

16-10, 23-19, 31-26, 33-37

Eureka wasted no time going inside to post Miranda Smith, who scored the team's first 6 points, then added two free throws for 8 the first quarter. Kelly Clarke hit a three with 1:03 to go, then Shelby Sebby netted 2 to beat the first quarter buzzer to put Eureka up 16-10.

"Miranda played really well the first quarter," Hall said.

The Lady Rebels were going for threes and staying away from Smith's long reach on defense inside, with Clarke and Shayla Vercruysse hitting threes for Eureka in the second quarter to answer.

Lady Highlander Shelby Sebby hit a three to start the third quarter to give Eureka its largest lead, 26-19, but the Lady Rebel defense had stopped Smith inside and cut the lead to 28-26.

"The second half we let them push Miranda out. They did a good job on that," Coach Hall said.

Clarke came through at the end of the third quarter, firing in her third three of the game to keep Eureka ahead 31-26, but it was the Lady Highlanders last field goal of the game.

The Lady Rebels took the lead with 6:26 to play, then held the ball, forcing Eureka to foul to stop the clock. Sebby cut Johnson County's lead to one, 33-34, with two free throws with 1:23 to play, but the Lady Rebels made 3 of 4 at the line in the final 42 seconds to win, 37-33.

Scoring- ES- Smith- 10; Sebby- 9, 1 3s, 4/4 Fts; Clarke- 9, 3 3s; Vercruysse- 3, 1 3s; Tanisha Morrell- 2. Team- 5 3s, 6/6 Fts. JCWS- Allison McBee- 10, 3 3s, 1/2 Fts; Emily Hester- 10, 4/5 Fts; Megan Riable- 7, 1 3s, 2/3 Fts; Ashley Henson- 6, 2 3s. Team- 6 3s, 11/14 Fts.

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