ES struggles offensively in loss

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Offense was tough to come by Friday night for the Eureka Springs Highlanders when they traveled to take on the Mountainburg Dragons. The Highlanders only mustered 36 points and that resulted in a three-point loss to end the regular season.

"We just had a hard time scoring the basketball," Eureka Springs coach Brian Rambo said. "For whatever reason, we were really passive offensively. I think we are trying to focus on shot selection a lot. Take good shots. But that is making us really passive and not being aggressive. When you go on the road and get 36 points, it's tough to win."

Mountainburg led 13-12 at the end of the first quarter. Garrett Cross had five points and Carter Drennon added four. Rambo said he is pleased with the way the Highlanders played defensively throughout the night.

"We gave up 23 points in the first half and 16 in the second half," Rambo said. "That should win you most ballgames. We just have to address some things offensively and I think we will be OK."

Eureka Springs only scored six points in the second quarter and the Dragons extended their lead to 23-18 at halftime. Rambo said it's important his players play loose and confident as the district tournament starts this week.

"I am going to tell my guys to play aggressive and play to their strengths," Rambo said. "They aren't doing a good job of that. We know there aren't anymore home games and we haven't played well on the road so it's important to go over to the district tournament and play well."

Cross scored 10 of Eureka Springs' 12 points in the third quarter and the Highlanders trailed 31-30 going into the fourth quarter. Offensive efficiency has been an ongoing problem for Eureka Springs this year, but it's something Rambo will be spending time on heading into Thursday's semifinal matchup.

"We are going to talk about what are good shots and what are bad shots," Rambo said. "Being aggressive and getting into the paint. Getting to the foul line. We only shot eight foul shots Friday night. That won't get it done. We have to go on the road and get people in foul trouble, especially since we aren't deep."

Mountainburg made free throws late to hang on for the victory. Cross finished with 19 points, while Drennon had 10 and Dalton Arnold had four. Slade Clark made a three-pointer.

The Highlanders go into the district tournament as the No. 2 seed and the Dragons are the No. 5 seed. That doesn't mean the two teams might not meet up again.

"This year, there is a lot of parity in the conference," Rambo said. "From numbers 1-5, everybody could beat everybody and our six seed beat the one seed last week at home. There is a possibility that you could play anybody and there is a possibility that anybody could win it."

Eureka Springs (16-11) will play at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals of the 2A-4 West District Tournament at Johnson County Westside.

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