Eureka Springs handled by Hackett in 1-2A Conference affair at home
EUREKA SPRINGS -- Eureka Springs dropped to 12-13 overall and 4-5 in 1-2A Conference with a 45-41 loss to Hackett at home on Tuesday.
The Highlanders trailed 15-13 after the opening quarter and 28-25 at the half. But a six-point third period created an opening for Hackett and the Hornets took advantage, leading 37-31 entering the final stanza.
Despite the paltry scoring quarter, Eureka Springs leading scorer Dalton Johnson said the Highlanders failed to get the ball inside to Josh Premeau enough for the big man to make a difference.
"Our defense sucked and we didn't get the ball inside enough," he said. "We have to make better decisions on offense and we have to play better defense."
Johnson led the Highlanders with 15 points with five 3-pointers while Premeau finished with 11. Premeau shot only three free throws, connecting once.
Eureka Springs coach Nolan Helder said the Highlanders didn't have the effort needed to come out with a win.
"We have lost to them twice but I think we are the better team," he said. "We just didn't show it tonight. I felt like we got outworked on the boards and (Hackett) worked harder defensively. When you get outworked by the other team you don't deserve to win."
He added that Premeau had to be a bigger factor.
"When Josh only touches the ball about three times in the second half you are not going to win," he said. "We come down and either turn it over or jack a three and you can't win like that. I sound like a broken record telling them that but I can't go out and do it for them."
The Highlanders continue division play tonight at Mountainburg. Eureka Springs beat the Dragons 67-56 in the final game at the old gym on Dec. 21.
"If we will execute offensively and do what we are supposed to we can beat them or anyone else in our conference," Helder said. "But until we do those things we can also lose to anyone in our conference."
Helder and the Highlanders expected to have a more successful second half with the return of several players, including Jake McClung and Trevor Lemme. McClung scored three points against Hackett on Tuesday while Lemme finished with eight, including a pair of threes.
"We didn't have Jake for a long time and I thought we would improve when we got him back," Helder said. "Trevor struggled out there taking care of the ball. I don't know if it's chemistry with him in the mix or what. We are still a work in progress and trying to figure it out. You would hope to be hitting your stride at this point. We just have to keep working."