Turnovers cost Lady Highlanders in season-opening loss
By Scott Loftis
With their top six players returning from a team that won the 2A-1 conference championship last season, the Eureka Springs Lady Highlanders should be primed for another good year.
But coach Ryan Sanchez says the Lady Highlanders can’t be complacent.
“It doesn’t matter what happened last year,” Sanchez said. “There’s nothing guaranteed.”
Eureka Springs opened its season Tuesday, losing 50-39 to Valley Springs at Highlander Arena. A traditional Class 3A power, Valley Springs won 31 games last season and reached the state tournament. One of those victories was a 21-point victory over Eureka Springs in Sanchez’s coaching debut.
Sanchez said he expected the Lady Highlanders to win this year’s meeting.
“We missed out on that opportunity,” he said.
Turnovers and missed shots hurt Eureka Springs. The Lady Highlanders shot 28 percent from the floor and committed 19 turnovers — a combination that not even their 42-27 rebounding advantage could overcome.
“Turnovers were our biggest issue last season,” Sanchez said. “We need to improve on that.”
Despite the low shooting percentage, Sanchez said he was mostly satisfied with the Lady Highlanders’ shot selection.
“Something I never get onto them about is missing shots, as long as we’re taking the right shots,” he said. “Aside from three or four shots, I thought we took good shots.”
Eureka Springs’ breakthrough season in 2018-2019 was fueled in large part by the inside duo of Megan Holloway and Shelby Little, both now seniors. The two had a combined 35 points and 25 rebounds against Valley Springs. Holloway scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds while Little had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
“I’m astonished for us to outrebound them the way we did and not win,” Sanchez said.
Valley Springs led 17-9 after one quarter and 26-20 at halftime. Holloway’s three-point play with 34.4 seconds left in the third quarter had the Lady Highlanders within six at 38-32, but Valley Springs scored the next seven points to open up a 13-point lead in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter and Eureka Springs trailed by at least 10 the rest of the way.
On Friday, Eureka Springs lost 52-41 at Lead Hill.