Highlanders experience heartbreaker at home
EUREKA SPRINGS -- The Highlander Gym was at full capacity on Tuesday night, however, the pulse of Senior Night was not enough to propel the home team, as they were defeated 64-49 by the Jasper Pirates.
"We just didn't play that well," head coach Nolan Helder said. "We played well in the first half but we missed too many layups and our defense allowed too many shots. We pretty much gave them anything they wanted."
The Highlanders ( 20-7, 7-2) were down for the entire opening quarter, however, a rare three by junior McGehee cut the Pirates' lead to two.
The second quarter would be another story, though, as Eureka went inside much more, giving them a nail-biting 27-25 lead.
The Highlanders came out and shifted from their traditional man defense to a zone, however, Jasper's size and ability to hit the perimeter shots prevented an issue for the Highlanders.
"We went to a zone in order to take away their size in the second half," Helder said. "However, they were able to hit their shots when we made the change. It was a real frustrating game."
The Highlanders came out in the third quarter and went ice cold, mentally and physically.
The team committed one turnover and missed two easy layups.
Jasper began to take control of the game as they took advantage of the opportunities that came their way, as Eureka gave up an uncontested three from the top of the key, catapulting the Pirates to a 37-27 lead with 3:40 remaining.
However, Dalton Johnson was able to respond with a three of his own, cutting Jasper's lead to seven points, but it would not be enough, as the Pirates closed out the third with a nine point lead and in full control of the game.
If there is one positive that Helder and his team can take away from the loss, it's the fact their conference record was not affected.
"That loss would have been more disastrous if they were in our conference," he added.
For the first time in 10 years the Highlanders are in total control of their own destiny, as the conference title hangs in the balance.
The boys will now close out the season on the road with games on Feb. 3 against Union Christian, Feb. 7 at Mountainburg and Feb. 9 against Hackett, however, the real test comes down to the Mountainburg game.
On Friday, Jan. 13, the Dragons came to Highlander Gym and left with the 49-46 victory.
"That's going to be the big one," Helder said. "If we win out then we will win our conference."
Briar Sebby finished the game with 16 points; Nick Bower -- 12; Roy McGehee -- six; Peyton Troillett -- six.