Highlanders finish regular season on a high note

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Eureka Springs Highlanders had already clinched a conference championship, but Tuesday's home game against Mountainburg was very important. The 2A-4 West district tournament begins next week and both teams were looking to make a strong closing argument ahead of Wednesday's seeding meeting. A 64-44 victory for the Highlanders is a pretty strong closing argument.

"I feel like we are playing well at the right time," Eureka Springs coach Brian Rambo said. "I feel like we had a chance to come out and show people how much we had improved. My guys took the challenge. We didn't play well early, but finished the game really well. It is a really good game for us."

Mountainburg had an 18-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Highlanders turned things around from there. Eureka Springs led 28-24 at halftime. These two teams met earlier this season and the Dragons came out on top, 63-44.

"It's a 39-point turnaround," Rambo said. "And obviously early in the season we were young. We had a lot of sophomores playing a lot of minutes. We were trying to figure out who we were. We started out 9-7 and are 12-1 since then. It says a lot about our team and how much we have progressed."

After the Highlanders fell behind 18-12 in the first quarter, Rambo was glad to see his team make an impressive turnaround.

"The guys said ‘hey, let’s make stops, let’s do things the right way,’ ” Rambo said. "It's good seeing guys lead other guys. I feel like there have been times this year when I have had to be the emotional guy, but it's a reflection to see our kids lead each other."

As a result of the win and the 21-8 record, Eureka Springs clinched the No. 2 seed. They will play on Thursday and have a double-bye. As the No. 2 seed, the Highlanders have clinched a spot in the regional tournament.

"That says a lot about our kids and their last 13 games," Rambo said. "Once we put all of the stats up there, it was pretty obvious that we were playing the best basketball of anyone in the league. And I think we have the third-longest winning streak in 2A basketball at seven games. We have won 12 of our last 13. It's really hard to argue against those things."

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