Highlanders get exciting early-season win over Lavaca

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Eureka Springs Highlanders had to play a true road game in the first round of the Golden Arrow Classic on Tuesday at Lavaca. Eureka Springs didn't seem to mind, as the Highlanders defeated the Golden Arrows, 45-42 in front of their home crowd.

"This will give us a huge psychological advantage," Eureka Springs coach Brian Rambo said. "We understand that when we play well, we can play with anybody. Especially in our league. We feel like we can go in on the road, neutral court, home court. Doesn't really matter. We can go in and have a chance to beat them."

Trailing 43-42 and with 20 seconds remaining in the game, the Golden Arrows missed a layup that would have given them the lead. Eureka Springs' Justin Lemme was fouled and made both free throws to put the Highlanders up by three. The Highlanders had two fouls to give and they used both of them.

"They got it to their best player with about 10 seconds to go in the game," Rambo said. "We fouled him with 1.6 seconds left and they had to run a sideline out of bounds play. That gave us a chance to set our defense. We knew who we wanted to guard. We did a great job on the sideline out of bounds play by making them take a terrible shot and get a big win."

Lavaca led 13-11 at the end of the first quarter, then scored 15 points in the second quarter to take a 28-16 halftime lead.

"For us to go over there and play even with them in the first quarter was big, but in the second quarter we were out of sorts," Rambo said. "We were taking too many bad shots. We couldn't get any stops. And I was thinking we were out of gas, too. We were tired and winded. That's not something that should happen to a basketball team nine games into a season so I challenged my guys at halftime. I told them they could either cash it in and go home or we could fight."

The Highlanders came out playing hard in the second half, as Eureka Springs outscored Lavaca 13-2 in the third quarter. Lavaca held a 30-29 lead going into the fourth quarter.

"Looking back on my career, I have been in some big games and that wasn't a big game because it was a game in November, but in the end, it really felt like a regional tournament game," Rambo said. "It was a huge crowd. An exciting atmosphere. Hopefully we can take that energy and use it come tournament time come February and March. I'm happy for my kids. The locker room was fun after the game and we are just looking to build upon it."

Garrett Cross finished the game with 13 points, while Brandon Ray scored 11 and Carter Drennon had nine.

On Thursday, Eureka Springs will play Providence Academy in the semifinals of the Golden Arrow Classic, a game that could prove to be one of the toughest of the year.

"They are huge," Rambo said. "They won their first-round game against Paris by 40. They start 6-5, 6-6, 6-8 and their first guy off the bench is 6-5. Their best player is a 6-8 shooter from Latvia. It will be a tough matchup for us. We are just going to go in and try to compete with them and whatever happens, happens."

Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

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