Highlanders return to form after disappointing road loss
By Scott Loftis
The Eureka Springs Highlanders stumbled a bit last week, losing a conference game Friday at Flippin.
But the Highlanders were back at home Tuesday night, and back to themselves. Led by 22 points from senior guard Garrett Cross, the Highlanders defeated Decatur 51-29.
“I thought we got back to who we were a little bit,” Eureka Springs coach Brian Rambo said. “We played with more energy and urgency.”
The Highlanders improved to 14-4 and 2-1 in the 2A-1 and seemed to regain some momentum after the 49-39 loss at Flippin.
“I think things had been pretty easy for us,” Rambo said. “You tend to not work as hard. So it was good to see us get back to ourselves. Decatur is a good basketball team. They guard extremely hard. It was a good win.”
Cross and freshman guard Matthew Lester set the tone for the Highlanders offensively. Cross made three three-pointers and scored 14 points in the first half and Lester finished with 15 points, including three three-pointers.
Cross sank two three-pointers in the first quarter and a Lester three with 33 seconds left put the Highlanders up 15-6 at the end of the quarter.
Eureka Springs stretched its lead to 19-6 on two free throws by Cross with 5:15 left in the second quarter, and his three-pointer from the right wing made it 22-11 with 2:19 remaining.
“He’s a really skilled basketball player and his basketball IQ is tremendous,” Rambo said of Cross. “As he goes, we go, and he did a great job.”
After the Highlanders led 27-15 at halftime, they started the third quarter with a 10-3 run. Lester hit a three-pointer from the left baseline for a 30-16 lead with 7:05 left in the quarter. That was followed by a driving basket from Cross, a three-pointer from senior guard Griffin Taylor and a Cross basket from close range after a nice pass from senior forward Carter Drennon that put the Highlanders up 37-18 with 5:13 left in the quarter.
Lester’s final three-pointer, with 4:46 left in the fourth quarter, pushed Eureka Springs’ lead to 45-23.
Eureka Springs played Deer on Thursday in the Western Grove tournament before hosting Arkansas Arts Academy in a conference game on Friday.