Highlander basketball team improving day-by-day
The first game isn't until mid-October, but the Eureka Springs Highlander basketball team is hard at work getting ready for the upcoming season. After the two-week athletic dead period put in place by the Arkansas Activities Association, the Highlanders have attended team camps in Lavaca and Branson.
"We played guys that we will see in the regional tournament," Rambo said. "We played Lavaca. We played Mountainburg and beat them. We are holding our own right now in the summer time even though we do have some guys missing. It's encouraging to know that when we get everybody back once school starts, we will be way ahead of where we were in years prior. It bodes well. Things are looking up for us. We should get back to our winning ways and have a chance to make it back to the state tournament this year. I'm really excited about that."
The Highlanders lost Brandon Ray, Justin Lemme and Dalton Arnold to graduation last year. As a result, Rambo said the Highlanders were struggling early during the summer, but they have improved dramatically.
"We lost some key pieces to graduation and we were trying to find some chemistry and find our way earlier this summer," Rambo said. "We struggled with that early in the summer. We weren't clicking. We weren't on the same page. We had a lot of things to work on and as a result it was a struggle early, especially at the Berryville camp in late May and early June, but in the last three or four weeks, we have really come together and started to gel."
Rambo believes the Highlanders are ahead of schedule right now.
"Offensively, we are so much more cohesive as a unit," Rambo said. "We have better pieces, too. We shoot the ball better. We have more size. We are just more athletic as a whole this year."
Rambo said a big part of the Highlanders’ team chemistry has been built on playing fundamental basketball.
"Offensively, the guys are really starting to understand how to play with each other," Rambo said. "Defensively, we are getting down on the other end, rebounding much better and it's been good to see."
Garrett Cross, Jackson Cross, Carter Drennon and Slade Clark all return from last year’s team. Matthew Lester is expected to contribute as a freshman for the Highlanders. Lester will be the first freshman Rambo has ever played at the varsity level to start the season.
"That will be something new for me, having a freshman on the varsity team," Rambo said. "He guards the basketball really well. He still fights shot selection. What's a good shot and what's a bad shot and when to shoot. That's an important part of our offense. Him knowing shot selection, taking good shots and playing with other guys."
Eureka Springs' season starts on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Valley Springs.