Cross powers Highlanders to crucial win
By Scott Loftis
Eureka Springs coach Brian Rambo describes 6-5 senior guard Garrett Cross as a “mismatch problem” for the Highlanders’ opponents.
The Flippin Bobcats would likely use stronger terms, especially after Cross’ performance against them on Friday.
Cross scored 28 points to lead Eureka Springs to a 55-34 victory over Flippin in a crucial conference game at Highlander Arena.
“I told him when we took him out of the game with about a minute and a half left, he had as many points as their entire team,” Rambo said.
Cross scored 17 points in the second half as Eureka Springs (25-5, 6-1 2A-1) pulled away after leading 18-12 at halftime. The Highlanders outscored Flippin 19-8 in the third quarter.
While Cross scored 11 points in the quarter, Flippin (19-11, 7-1) went ice cold against an aggressive Eureka Springs defense.
Rambo explained that the Highlanders’ plan was to extend their defense toward midcourt in an effort to slow down Flippin’s three-point shooters.
“We did a good job of extending the floor,” he said. “We wanted to get out close to the volleyball line and guard their shooters. They had a hard time with it.”
Cross’ layup in transition extended Eureka Springs’ lead to 31-17, and he converted a three-point play later in the third quarter for a 36-20 lead. His basket from the left baseline early in the fourth quarter put the Highlanders ahead 41-22.
Senior guard Griffin Taylor added 14 points for Eureka Springs, including 11 in the second half.
The victory extended Eureka Springs’ winning streak to 11 games and pulled the Highlanders even in the conference loss column with Flippin, which won the teams’ first meeting 49-39 on Dec. 7 at Flippin. Since the Highlanders own the tiebreaker advantage, they can secure the top seed in the district tournament by winning their final three conference games.
On Tuesday, the Highlanders will play at Yellville-Summit. Eureka Springs beat the Panthers 64-41 earlier this season, but Rambo said this may be the last real obstacle for his team.
“It all comes down to Tuesday night,” he said. “If we can go into Yellville and get a win, we’ll be in good shape.”
Eureka Springs 39, Flippin 26
Junior forward Shelby Little scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the Lady Highlanders (21-11, 6-1 2A-1) defeated Flippin (7-16, 4-4).
Junior forward Megan Holloway added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Eureka Springs.
The Lady Highlanders went a combined 9-87 the past three seasons before this season’s resurgence under first-year coach Ryan Sanchez.