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Sluggish starts equal two more EHS losses

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Eminence boys drop two games in Portland Holiday Classic for a 1-7 start to this basketball season

By Tommie Kendall

The Eminence Warriors followed two near-identical storylines last week, starting out sluggish against Evangel Christian and Heritage Academy before regrouping when the basketball games were out of reach.

Playing in the Portland Christian Holiday Classic, the EHS boys’ team lost to Evangel last Monday, 88-57, then lost to Heritage on Tuesday, 77-52, to drop its record to 1-7. The Warriors were trailing 27-3 during the opening quarter of the first game and 20-8 in the second.

“During the first half our players get out there and they aren’t sure where they belong,” Eminence coach Chris Nethery said of his team’s early-game woes. “Then, they come back out, play hard in the second half and hold their own. The pressure is gone and they just play ball. It’s against teams with small numbers so they continue to play their starters all the way through. There’s no reason why we can’t play with them the whole game.”

Eminence opened the Portland Holiday Classic with a 10 a.m. game against Evangel last Monday. The Warriors were trailing 22-0 before they connected on a free throw to light up the scoreboard for the first time. They were behind 27-3 after the first quarter and 44-18 at the half. During the final eight-minute stretch, Eminence outscored Evangel 22-18, but took the 31-point loss.

For Eminence, Bradley Foree and Jeremy Keller scored 13 points each, Connor Toole scored 10, Brandon Mitchell scored eight, Jordan Fairchild scored seven, and Daishon Moore, Todd Adams and Sean Armstrong scored two each. Keller and Mitchell knocked down one three-point basket apiece. Meanwhile, Evangel had 11 different players score with three reaching double digits.

“We just didn’t come ready to play,” Nethery said. “It took us a quarter to even wake up.”

The Warriors were without the play of starters TJ Cooper and Dre Banta. Cooper missed the game for the ACT while Banta had to sit out with an injured ankle that has left the junior sidelined all last week. Sophomores Sawyer Sims and Toole were moved into the starting rotation, joining senior Fairchild, sophomore Keller and freshman Foree.

Nethery said he was most impressed with the play from Toole, who started for the first time and finished with a career high in points, reaching double digits.

“He plays hard regardless of what the score is, runs the offense and does smart things,” Eminence’s coach said. “I was really impressed with him.”

Without Banta or Cooper again the following day against Heritage, the Warriors were trailing 20-9 after the first quarter and 39-17 at the half.

During the final two quarters, Eminence was outscored just 17-15 and 21-20.

“Basically how it went is they got a lot of run outs early in the game, got a big lead on us and then we played with them,” Nehtery said. “The only real bright spot we had was from Foree.”

The freshman finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and dominated during the second half.

“He had a huge game for us,” Nethery said. “He’s only a freshman but is doing his share of scoring, rebounding and blocking shots. He’s pretty much carrying us right now.”

Besides Foree’s 24 points, Sims scored eight, Toole, Mitchell and Armstrong scored four each, and Fairchild, Brandon Lane, Tre Lindsay and Corey Reynolds scored two each.

E-mail us about this story at sports@hclocal.com.