Basketball coaches, players receive postseason honors
The honors just keeping for Eureka Springs basketball.
Highlanders coach Brian Rambo and Lady Highlanders coach Ryan Sanchez both have been named 2A-1 Conference Coach of the Year after leading their teams to conference championships and state tournament appearances.
Those honors follow All-State recognition for Highlanders senior guard Garrett Cross and Lady Highlanders junior forward Shelby Little.
Rambo’s Highlanders won 19 consecutive games and finished 33-7. In addition to the regular-season conference championship, Eureka Springs won the district and regional tournaments and set a school record for victories.
“That has a lot to do with the type of kids you have,” Rambo said of the coaching honor. “Obviously we had a great group with five seniors. But yeah, I’m extremely blessed and grateful.”
Sanchez turned the Lady Highlanders around in his first season as a head coach. After winning just nine games in the previous three seasons, Eureka Springs went 23-14 under Sanchez.
“I’m just a product of my environment,” said Sanchez, a Eureka Springs graduate who played under Rambo before playing college basketball. “My parents had a big role in my life, and so did the coaches I played for. Even moreso, it’s a credit to the girls. Their play dictates that. You can have the best coach in the world, but if you don’t have talented players who work hard and buy in, you don’t have anything.”
Cross, who was named All-State for the second consecutive year, averaged more than 21 points a game in leading the Highlanders to a 33-6 record. Eureka Springs won the regular-season conference championship before taking the district and regional tournament titles and advancing to the Class 2A state tournament. Cross recorded his second career triple-double in a November game against Deer, when he had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He scored more than 1,500 points during his high school career.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Rambo said. “It just really speaks volumes about what kind of player he was.”
Little, in her first year at Eureka Springs, was a major factor in the Lady Highlanders’ success. She averaged 13 points and seven rebounds a game — including season-highs of 28 points and 17 rebounds in a victory over Kingston on Jan. 15.
“She played really well and helped us change the culture of the program,” Sanchez said.