Highlanders move closer to top seed
By Scott Loftis
Make it an even dozen for the Eureka Springs Highlanders.
The Highlanders won their 12th consecutive game Tuesday night, beating Yellville-Summit 56-37 on the road.
Eureka Springs (26-5, 7-1 2A-1) handed Yellville-Summit (13-6, 6-3) its first home loss of the season and kept itself positioned for the No. 1 seed in the district tournament.
The Highlanders are tied with Flippin for first place in the conference race and own the tiebreaker advantage. The Highlanders have two regular-season games remaining — both at Highlander Arena, where Eureka Springs is 14-0 this season.
“It was another big win for our guys,” coach Brian Rambo said. “The first half was tight. Neither team was really sharp in the first half. It was a good old-fashioned dogfight.”
Eureka Springs led 20-14 at halftime and widened the margin to 35-25 by the end of the third quarter. With Yellville-Summit playing catch-up, the Panthers were forced to press and Rambo said his team was able to exploit the pressure for some easy baskets. The Highlanders also made eight free throws in 10 attempts in the fourth quarter.
Just as importantly, Eureka Springs’ defense made it difficult for Yellville-Summit to get into a rhythm offensively.
“We just locked them down defensively,” Rambo said. “Like I told my guys, defense always travels. Offensively, you have nights where your offense isn’t that great. But defense always travels.”
Senior guard Garrett Cross led Eureka Springs with 22 points. Senior forward Carter Drennon added 13 and freshman guard Matthew Lester added nine.
Eureka Springs’ home game against Cotter, which had been scheduled for Friday night, has been rescheduled to Monday night. The Highlanders will then close out the regular season on Tuesday night, at home against Haas Hall Academy.
Eureka Springs 42 (OT)
Yellville-Summit’s Mariah Crespino hit a three-pointer from the top of the key with 2.3 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Lady Panthers to a victory over the Lady Highlanders, spoiling a late comeback by Eureka Springs.
The Lady Highlanders (21-12, 6-2 2A-1) scored eight consecutive points at the end of regulation to force overtime, then scored the first seven points of overtime to finish a 15-0 run. A three-pointer by Crespino pulled Yellville-Summit (6-15, 4-5) within four at 42-38. Eureka Springs then missed four consecutive free throws as another basket pulled the Lady Panthers within one and set the stage for Crespino’s game-winner.
Junior guard Katelyn Ross made six three-pointers and led the Lady Highlanders with 18 points. Junior forward Shelby Little added 14 points for Eureka Springs.