State tournament-bound: Lady Highlanders punch their ticket with regional win
The Eureka Springs Lady Highlanders are headed to the Class 2A State Tournament.
The Lady Highlanders clinched a state tournament bid with a 39-38 victory over Mountainburg on Thursday in the first round of the 2A West Regional Tournament at Highlander Arena. Eureka Springs will make its first state tournament appearance in 11 years.
Senior forward Megan Holloway gave the Lady Highlanders a one-point lead when she scored from close range with less than 30 seconds left. Mountainburg had a chance to tie the game, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 3.6 seconds left as Eureka Springs hung on.
Senior guard Gracie Lester led the Lady Highlanders (17-13) with 13 points. Senior forward Shelby Little added 10, including eight in the second half. Holloway scored eight.
Eureka Springs will play a regional semifinal game at 4 p.m. Friday against Flippin. The state tournament begins Tuesday, March 3, at Quitman High School.
Mountainburg led 16-14 at halftime, but Little scored eight points in the third quarter as Eureka Springs outscored the Lady Dragons 17-10 for a 31-26 lead.
Little scored Eureka Springs’ first six points of the third quarter as the Lady Highlanders took a 20-19 lead. After a Mountainburg three-pointer put the Lady Dragons ahead 22-20, Eureka Springs senior Grayson Ertel converted a three-point play and classmate Katelyn Ross dropped in a three-pointer as the Lady Highlanders grabbed a 26-22 lead.
Mountainburg got within one at 27-26 before Eureka Springs scored the final four points of the quarter on baskets by Lester and Little.
Mountainburg started the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to take a 36-33 lead but Little’s basket with 4:30 left pulled the Lady Highlanders within one. Lester’s layup gave Eureka Springs a 37-36 lead.
Mountainburg took its final lead of the game at the 1:44 mark, converting an offensive rebound into a basket that made it 38-37.
Eureka Springs will play two more games in the regional tournament to determine seeding for the state tournament.
The regional tournament final is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.