Every two years the Arkansas Activities Association reassesses the conference alignments based on updated enrollments in grades 10-12. So the 2012-13 basketball season began with a revised 2-A District (conference) lineup. County Line (Branch) went to 1-A, and JD Leftwich (Magazine) and Johnson County Westside (Coal Hill) were added, to make an eight-team district this year. Eureka Springs has the distinction of being the largest school in the group:
|1) Eureka Springs||167|
|4) JD Leftwich (Magazine)||142|
|5) JC Westside (Coal Hill)||142|
|8) Union Christian (Fort Smith)||85|
Note: Hartford, Decatur and Union Christian are in 2A only because they play football, and they are three of the four smallest schools in the state to do so. Also, there are only five schools larger than Eureka Springs in 2A that do not play football.
Coming off an Elite 8 finish in the state 2-A tourney last year and with six underclassmen that saw considerable playing time (including one starter) expected to return, it looked like depth would not be a problem. However, it was not to be, as only two (Josh Premeau and Dalton Johnson) returned to the team, after one transferred to Berryville, two left the state, and one didn't go out for basketball this year. This led to a severe lack of depth with only seven on the senior high roster. That meant that now-junior Dalton Johnson and senior Josh Premeau had to step up big, and that junior Jake McClung and seniors Tanner Allee and Andrew Ritter had to contribute, and they certainly have -- along with sophomores Nathan Andress and Payton Meyers. It is important that the Scots stay injury free, as noted by the recent injury to Jake McClung who just returned for the Mountainburg game. The depth will improve starting the second semester when sophomores Trevor Lemme, Avery Drennon, Lucas Vasquez, and Ryan Garcia become eligible.
The Scots are off to a 10-11 start, 2-3 in the conference to close out 2012. The conference wins were at home against JD Leftwich, 70-44, and Mountainburg, 67-56, in the "Turn Out the Lights" game on Dec. 21, the last game in the old gym. All losses were on the road, to Johnson County Westside, Union Christian and Hackett.
So now the 2013 portion of season has nine conference games remaining to determine the conference champion, and unlike past years, it looks like a fairly balanced league with multiple teams having a shot. Decatur is probably the most improved team with two big men inside. Union Christian also looks for improvement. Hartford and Hackett are always around for an upset. Mountainburg is always in the hunt, and not much is known about the two new members of the conference, although the Scots have defeated JD Leftwich the past two years at Regionals. It should be interesting.
The Lady Scots are off to a much better start this year at 7-14 but 0-5 in conference. Overall, the conference is much better this year with the Mountainburg Dragons ranked No. 2 in the state. But except for the top teams they are competing well and Coach Rambo has them hustling to the end. They are also short on depth with two seniors, three juniors and three sophomores comprising the roster of eight. Senior Taylor Osterhout and junior Abby Moore are the heart of the team with senior Jazmin Urioste, juniors Samantha Mueller and Haley Comstock and sophomore Hayden Mayfield rounding out the top six. Also on the roster are sophomores Taylor Little and Thalia Ortega. They are working hard to get their first conference win.
The conference looks to be dominated by three teams: Mountainburg, JD Leftwich and JC Westside. So the remaining five teams will be battling for the fourth spot and Eureka should be among them.
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The new year began with games against the Hartford Hustlers on Tuesday, Jan. 8 in the new high school basketball arena. It was "TURN ON THE LIGHTS" night for a new beginning.
In discussing the new arena with Coaches Helder and Rambo, they stated that it will be like playing on a neutral court as Eureka will also not be used to the arena size/background, play of rims, etc. Hopefully after a few home games it will begin to feel like home!
The Scots jumped out to an early lead of 14-9 at the quarter and stretched it to 32-19 by half-time led by Dalton Johnson with 14 points. The lead was stretched to 39-23 at the 4 minute mark of the 3rd quarter but Hartford then hustled an 11-2 run led by Tomi Collins to pull within 41-34 to end the third quarter. They continued to get closer at 43-38 when Coach Helder told the team to get the ball inside to Josh Premeau and let him go to the basket as they were double-teaming Dalton Johnson on the perimeter. It worked as the Scots soon had a 51-41 lead at the 2 minute mark and then ran out the clock for a final of 54-42. Tomi Collins of Hartford led all scorers with 21 - half of their points. Josh Premeau and Dalton Johnson led the Eureka scoring with 15 points each, followed by Jake McClung with 13, Trevor Lemme with 5, Tanner Allee with 4 and Andrew Ritter with 2. Their record is now 11-11, 3-3 in conference.
The Lady Highlanders picked up their first conference win of the season by pitching a shutout in the first quarter at 7-0 and raced on to a 15-4 halftime lead which was stretched to 27-11at the third quarter and a final of 37-16. This one was never in doubt as Hartford had no answer for the pressing defense of the Lady Scots. The scoring was evenly distributed among 7 with Abby Moore leading with 11 points followed Samantha Mueller with 6, 5 by Taylor Little, 4's by Taylor Osterhout, Haley Comstock and Jasmine Urioste, and 3 by Hayden Mayfield. Their record is now 8-14, 1-5 in conference.
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FRIDAY, JAN. 11 GAMES
The game started on an ominous note as Josh Premeau, the Scots primary inside scorer, was hit with 3 fouls in the first few minutes of the game and it seemed all uphill from there. The Bulldogs are a very athletic team that plays a tight man-to-man defense limiting our outside shooting threat. It always seems like a defensive struggle in their house as last year the Scots eked out a 1 point win in the low 30's. The score was Decatur 4-3 at the quarter and 16-12 at the half. The Scots managed to take the lead in the 3rd quarter ending at 23-21, but the Bulldogs came on strong in the 4th quarter led by Harris for a 36-32 victory. The conference road woes continue. Harris led all scorers with 15 points. The Scots were led by Dalton Johnson with 12 points (four 3's), followed by Tanner Allee and Trevor Lemme with 7 each, John Premeau with 4 and Andrew Ritter with 2. Their record is now 11-12, 3-4 in conference.
It's 2-0 in conference play for the new year as the Lady Highlanders, per Coach Rambo, opened the game with some of their best ball to date. They led 10-5 at the quarter and 19-15 at the half. They stretched the lead to 11 in the 3rd quarter and finished at 32-25. But the 4th quarter spelled trouble as turnovers and missed free throws continued to narrow the lead until it was down to 2. The Lady Bulldogs had 2 final shots, the last with 2 seconds remaining, to tie or win the game but missed and the Lady Scots held on for a 38-36 win. They were led in scoring by Taylor Osterhout with 12 points, Jazmin Urioste and Samantha Mueller with 9 each, and Abby Moore with 8. Their record is now 9-14, 2-5 in conference.