ES limps into break with a win

Thursday, December 28, 2017
Eureka Springs' Slade Clark prepares to shoot a three-pointer in last week's game against Kingston.
Charles Chappell / www.PhotoShelter.com/CCImages

Eureka Springs basketball coach Brian Rambo found out that point guard Garrett Cross wasn't going to be able to play Tuesday night hours before tipoff. In addition to Cross being ill, Justin Lemme wasn't feeling 100 percent going into the game. Despite these setbacks, Eureka Springs got a 55-24 home win over Hartford to keep a four-game winning streak intact heading into Christmas break.

"It worked out," Rambo said. "Guys stepped up and played well. Defensively, we clicked again tonight. Offensively, we did a great job of taking care of the basketball at points. We shot the ball at a high rate. Slade Clark shot the mess out of it. Had the game of his life probably. It was just a great all around team victory. I was real proud of my guys."

Eureka Springs led 10-5 with 10 seconds remaining in the first quarter. After creating a turnover, Brandon Ray heaved a shot from halfcourt that went in. Ray was also fouled. The four-point play gave Eureka Springs a 14-5 lead going into the second quarter.

"If you stop at 10-5, it's a two-possession game," Rambo said. "But then he makes that shot and goes to the foul line. All of a sudden it's 14-5 and we get a bucket to make it 16-5. It just manifests and grows. It snowballs. If he doesn't make that bucket and they get one to trim the lead to 10-7, then we are in a dogfight. They get some confidence. We start making excuses because our good one is out. That shot flipped it for us."

Ray scored four more points in the second quarter and Carter Drennon scored six. Eureka Springs only allowed two points in the quarter and led 26-7 at halftime.

"When you give up seven points in a half, I don't care who you are, you should be able to win," Rambo said. "The other thing about boys basketball is, guys can score. We defer to Garrett and Carter because they are our elite scorers, but when asked Slade can step up and score. Brandon can score. Jackson (Cross) scored four points tonight. Kayden (Eckman) came off the bench and scored four big points tonight."

Eureka Springs extended its lead to 49-18 going into the fourth quarter. Clark had 12 points in the quarter, nine of which came in a three-possession span.

"When you have guys like that, the 2-3 zone has to be much more extended," Rambo said. "They have to come out and guard shooters and so now Carter is getting layups. Brandon is driving to the bucket. That's really where the game becomes beautiful."

Drennon finished the game with 18 points, while Clark had 16 and Ray had 10.

Rambo hopes playing without Garrett Cross will help his team later in the season.

"It's one of those things where you look back on the season and you are in a big ballgame with your best player on the bench with three fouls," Rambo said. "You look at each other and say that we have been here before. We have done this before. You have to step up and get a stop. That's really the maturation of a basketball team. Injuries happen. Illnesses happen. Fouls happen. Experience you gain from things like this is immeasurable."

With all of the injuries and illnesses Eureka Springs (11-5) has suffered throughout the first half of the season, Rambo said the Highlanders are going to take a break during the Christmas holiday.

"It's a little bit different this year," Rambo said. "Obviously you want to stay sharp. You want to be in the gym and continue to work and get better. But we have so many illnesses right now. We have guys dropping like flies. You hate to bring them in tomorrow and keep spreading this thing and when you come back in January, you still have a problem. I know of basketball teams who have had two courses of this flu, so the best thing for us is to get away and take a break."

Eureka Springs will host Green Forest on Thursday, Jan. 4. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Girls

Eureka Springs 44, Hartford 21

The Eureka Springs Lady Highlanders are going into Christmas break on a high note after beating the Hartford Lady Hustlers Tuesday night.

"Katelyn Ross shot the ball real well tonight," Eureka Springs coach Adam Brothers said. "I think she had 15 points. Megan Holloway ended up with 10 points. Gracie Lester and Emily Bird played a great game, as well."

Early three-pointers by Ross and Bird helped give the Lady Highlanders a 7-0 lead. Holloway scored two baskets later in the quarter, as Eureka Springs led 13-2 going into the second quarter. Foul trouble had been a problem for the Lady Highlanders all year. Brothers said it was good seeing his team stay out of foul trouble.

"When we played Kingston the other night, we had a 12-point lead and I'm thinking everything is going good," Brothers said. "But I look up and Emily Bird has four fouls and Gracie Lester ended up getting her fourth foul. That hurts our defense. When we go into halftime and we have only fouled four times, we can come out, press and get after it in the second half."

Ross made two three-pointers in the second quarter and Holloway added four points as well, allowing the Lady Highlanders (4-12) to take a 25-9 lead into halftime. Ross made another three-pointer in the third quarter, while Grayson Ertel and Lester each made baskets to take a 31-12 lead into the fourth quarter.

"Everybody touched the ball tonight and that's what I like," Brothers said. "When you have good teamwork and you can spread the floor along with Megan Holloway who is 6-3 in the middle, that works out when you have good shooters."

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