Lady Highlanders get all comforts of home
By Scott Loftis
A year ago, the Eureka Springs Lady Highlanders had to make a long road trip and face a difficult opponent on its home court in the first round of the 2A West Regional Tournament.
Now, it’s the Lady Highlanders turn to play a big game in front of a home crowd.
Eureka Springs will face Mountainburg at 4 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the regional tournament at Highlander Arena. The winner will clinch a spot in next week’s Class 2A State Tournament at Quitman High School.
“Definitely having that experience last year will help,” Eureka Springs coach Ryan Sanchez said. “Just knowing what it consists of, how this tournament represents a ‘one game and you’re done’ type thing.”
The Lady Highlanders enter the tournament as the No. 3 seed from the 2A-1 after beating Yellville-Summit 58-29 Saturday in the district tournament at Decatur.
Senior forward Shelby Little scored 18 points to lead Eureka Springs against Yellville-Summit, while classmate Katelyn Ross made four three-pointers and scored 14 points.
Last season, Eureka Springs won the regular-season conference championship before finishing third in the district tournament. The Lady Highlanders lost to Danville 40-32 in the first round of the regional at Danville.
The Lady Highlanders finished second to Cotter in the regular-season this year after losing 56-54 to the Lady Warriors on the road on Feb. 7. With a bye until the semifinals of the district tournament, Eureka Springs lost 43-40 to Flippin on Feb. 18 before beating Yellville-Summit in the third-place game.
“We were two possessions away from winning both of those games,” Sanchez said. “They were games that we should have won versus games where we have to play well to win. I feel confident in this team. I’ve felt that way since the beginning of the season.”
This will be the second meeting of the season between Eureka Springs (16-13) and Mountainburg (16-11). The Lady Highlanders won the first meeting 47-40 on Jan. 3 at Mountainburg.
“That’s a game where we down by 10 or 12 in the first half,” Sanchez said. “We made plays in the second half, but they’re good enough to beat us. At least we are familiar with them and we’re playing on our home floor.”