Highlanders soar over Eagles

Friday, January 27, 2017

EUREKA SPRINGS -- In a game that was not for the faint of heart, the Eureka Springs Highlanders got a 43-40 home victory over Omaha on Tuesday.

"We led the entire game and we got tired," Eureka Springs coach Brian Rambo said. "J.M. Gregg played every minute of the game. Brandon Ray played every minute of the game. Garrett Cross played every minute of the game. I am just so proud of how hard my guys played."

Two free throws by Cross gave the Highlanders a 39-35 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but a basket by Omaha cut the lead to two. After the Highlanders committed a turnover, a three-pointer gave Omaha a one-point lead with 2:57 remaining in the game.

Gregg missed two free throws and missed a three-pointer with 50 seconds left. A Eureka Springs steal allowed Gregg to make a layup with 33 seconds left and go ahead, 41-40. Omaha lost the ball out of bounds with four seconds remaining in the game. Ray made two free throws with two seconds left and a halfcourt heave from Omaha fell short.

"That last three minutes, I'm thinking 'do we have anything left in the tank?' " Rambo said. "They caught us, went ahead. They tried to run the clock on us. We got two humongous steals. Keeton (Lofgren) missed a layup, but J.M. luckily made his. And we did a great job in the halfcourt guarding."

Omaha jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but Gregg and Cross each made three-pointers in the first quarter, which helped get the Highlanders out to a 12-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Rambo was pleased with the way his defense performed throughout the evening.

"Our guys can flat-out guard," Rambo said. "They are so fun to watch. It's easy to say, 'Coach, I'm dead tired. I need to rest.' But to get a stop, get a rebound. Just keep grinding every possession. That speaks volumes about the kids we have in our program."

The Highlanders led by four at halftime as well.

Rambo was glad to see the Highlanders get the win playing shorthanded. Avery Walker and Slade Clark were both held out of the game. Rambo hopes to have both players back on Friday.

"We aren't just talking about 32 minutes," Rambo said. "We are talking about 32 high-intensity, grinding, physical minutes. Man-to-man defense. They pressed us. The game was up-tempo. Those kinds of minutes are different."

Gregg scored six of the eight points for the Highlanders in the third quarter and Eureka Springs led 33-30 going into the fourth quarter.

Gregg led the Highlanders in scoring with 20 points and Cross had 15. On Friday, Eureka Springs hosts Alpena. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Omaha 74, Eureka Springs 22

An Azziah Brothers three-pointer gave Eureka Springs an early 3-0 lead. It was downhill from there, though. Omaha went on a 16-2 run and led 23-5 at the end of the first quarter. Brothers added two more three-pointers in the second quarter as the Lady Eagles took a 41-13 lead into halftime. Haley Milawski and Brothers each made baskets in the third quarter.

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