Eureka boys end season with loss but future is bright
The Eureka Springs Highlanders had a season for the ages in 2011-12, finding the win column 28 times, while coming up short in only 11 games.
Head coach Nolan Helder emphasized team defense since the season got going, and his Highlanders played with that mantra for the majority of the season.
Seniors Nick Bower, Briar Sebby, Peyton Troillett and Dillon Reddick helped the team to districts, regionals and the state tournament for the back-to-back years.
While the team will be faced with losing the aforementioned seniors, Helder is optimistic about the 2012-13 season.
"We have a good sophomore and junior class that will have to step up," he said. "Roy (McGehee) and Josh (Premeau) got a lot of good experience in this year and I think they will fill the leadership roles for us just fine."
This past season was filled with highs and lows, but 2011-12 was also filled with first-time milestones.
The boys made it back to the state tournament in back-to-back years and they also won their first-ever state tournament game, as they defeated the Riverside Rebels, 52-46, on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
The team was blessed to have a solid bench filled with players who stepped in whenever called upon.
"It was a good year and I am very proud for the work ethic and time that the boys put in," Helder said. "This just may have been the best team to come through Eureka. It certainly has been the best team during my tenure at the school."
The fourth-year Eureka coach instilled discipline and determination into his team.
"They are a great group and I am happy to have had the season that we did," Helder added. "They sure worked for everything they got."
The Highlanders were also blessed with the opportunity to play on a versatile level, keeping opposing defenses at bay.
Eureka utilized their perimeter and interior game, making defenses commit to one or the other.
The progression of Josh Premeau also added another dimension to an already potent offense.
Premeau essentially came into his own during the second half of the season, originally for rebounds, but the junior found his offensive stroke, too.
Premeau added size to the lane as well as the innate ability to find open players from the wing.
The team is primed for a return to the postseason in 2013, according to Helder.
"We are used to winning and next year will be another good year for us," he said. "We will continue the tradition of winning."
The cohesion of the team will certainly go through the 2011-12 junior class, but Helder said the sophomores will also be asked to contribute to the winning tradition.
Dalton Johnson will be asked to fill the void from the perimeter, which will be left by Sebby's absence.