Warriors win one, lose one in NEA for second straight year
Tribune Sports Staff
It was fairly clear from the outset that EPC was the best team on the court when they met Harrisburg in the opening round of the 3A division of the NEA Tournament in Jonesboro. The Warriors turned a 15-4 first quarter advantage into a 60-40 final to advance to the second round against Hoxie.
"We got out front early and they couldn't recover," said coach Josh Hill of the game. "Troy (Hull) and Bucky (Chamberlin) had good games. I think both of them had three-threes. Brett (Hardin) had a good game, too."
Hull opened the scoring with one of his treys which was followed by a Hornet field goal. Harrisburg would score again until midway through the first period as EPC hit for nine more unanswered points.
Hardin got into the act in the first two minutes of the second period, hitting three straight two-pointers to push the Warriors out to a 21-6 lead. Harrisburg mounted a small rally mid way through the period to cut the lead to nine, 23-14.
The Warriors ended the half, though, with an 8-3 run and a satisfying 31-17 score at the break.
Mike Medina opened the second half with a trey almost as if to signify that the Warriors were simply going to continue what they had started in the first half.
By the end of the third period the score was up to 44-27 and the game already basically decided.
The Hornets tried to make a run in the final period, having their best scoring period with 13. But EPC matched those points and added three as the Warriors won going away, 60-40.
Hull and Chamberlin led with 19 and 13 points respectively. They were followed by Hardin with 10, Chris Davis eight, Mike Medina six, Dane Buck two, and both Mark Medina and Zac Brown one each.
Chad Lacy led Harrisburg with 15.
Hoxie 58, EPC 30
For the first 5:46 of the Warrior/Mustang second round game last Wednesday, it seemed as if neither team wanted to win the game. It took that long for the first point to be scored, a free throw by Hoxie for a 1-0 lead.
They added a field goal seconds later followed by a two-pointer from EPC's Davis and the ice suddenly seemed to be broken. Hardin pumped in two free throws followed by a trey by Chamberlin and the quarter ended with a seventh grade-like score, 7-3 advantage EPC.
The second period proved to be more up to par as the Mustangs began find the range and hit for 15 to the Warriors' 10 ending the very unusual half with Hoxie up 18-17.
"We'll have a better game than we did last time," said Hill referring to the previous meeting between the conference rivals on Dec. 7.
In that game, which EPC lost 69-40, the Mustangs led by 20, 38-18 at the half. The rematch truly did look better as Hill had said. Unfortunately, the third period had yet to be played.
Watching the third quarter unfold, the phrase "couldn't buy a basket" had to come to mind for any of the Warrior faithful present.
In the first 2:30 of the second half, the Mustangs pounded the Warriors for 15 points, answered only by a single bucket from Hull. Suddenly it looked like the previous game all over again as Hoxie went up 33-19.
"We beat ourselves," said Hill of the turnovers and missed rebounding opportunities which led to the second half run and eventual loss. "You can make that many mistakes and expect to win any game. No one stepped up any time during the game. It was embarrassing."
The third quarter ended with Hoxie in command 42-26. Then following an 18-4 final quarter, the Mustangs ended up with a literal stampede of the Warriors, 60-30.
Davis led the Warriors with 12 followed by Hull and Chamberlin with seven each, and Hardin and Buck with two apiece.
Tanner Jarrett finished with 11 points while both Nathan Ragsdall and Ray Volner had 10 each for Hoxie.