By Scott Vanscoy (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Dora Falcons were looking for payback. They lost six games last year, three of which were to the Eminence Redwings, including a season-ending loss in the sectional round of the state tournament. Eminence would go on to win the Class 1 state championship.
On Friday night, they got their chance. The Falcons manhandled the Redwings in the Cabool Holiday Tournament semifinals, with a final score of 71-54. The highly anticipated matchup was expected to be a close game but quickly turned into a rout. The young Falcons jumped out to an early lead and continued to build that lead as the game went on.
Leading the way for the Falcons, with a game-high 37, was sophomore Isaac Haney.
“I attribute a lot of my points to my teammates,” said Haney. “It’s hard for a defense to focus on five players and they did a heck of a job tonight, making sure that I got my shots early so I got into the rhythm. In practice, Coach preaches the importance of passing. If the open man doesn’t touch the ball, you’re running. You’ve got to make sure that you’re playing as a team and that’s what keeps you together. We don’t care who scores for us, all we care about is the ‘W’. At the end of the year we just want to make sure that we are playing basketball the right way. It feels pretty good to beat Eminence.”
Dora jumping out to a 20-10 lead in the first quarter was something that Eminence could not overcome.
“Dora played well; they came out and shot it well, and we came out a little bit flat and they took it to us,” said Eminence coach Pete McBride. “That’s a team you don’t want to be trailing. They space the floor and take the air out of the ball. They made us play a style we didn’t really want to play. We’ve got to get out of the gate. Last year, we got up on them in all of our games and kinda played from the lead. It’s hard to play from behind against these guys.”
Dora’s lead had grown to 33-20 by halftime. One of the battles won tonight for Dora was on the boards. The outsized Falcons out-rebounded the bigger and more experienced Redwings.
“We shot it well tonight, we rebounded better,” said Dora coach Rick Luna. “I felt like we did a better job of keeping them off the boards; they are so strong inside with the Dyer kids and Trent (McBride). Trent’s one of the best rebounders that you’ve ever seen. He does such a good job of adjusting while the ball is in the air. I feel like our advantage is in guard play; their advantage is size. We were just trying to take advantage of what we had, trying to spread them out. You can do that when you have a lead.”
Dora saw their lead expand in the second half to as much as 28, as they coasted the rest of the way to the victory.
“They shot it good, and they played well; hats off to them,” said McBride. “We had to kind of change our defense and spread ourselves out more than we wanted to, and then our big guys had to help stop the drive. We had to play a game we didn’t want to play.”
The young Falcons, who have a roster of only freshmen and sophomores, played like experienced upper-classmen tonight.
“This was one of those games where you knew it was going to be a battle,” said Dora coach Rick Luna. “With our history with them last year, the boys were ready for that rematch. Eminence is a good team but they had a bad night tonight. If we play them again, I’m sure it will be another battle.”
Dora—Isaac Haney-37, Kyle Hambelton-2, Bryson Luna-10, Mason Luna-5, Waylon Masters-11, Auston Luna-6
Eminence— Wade Dyer-8, Grant Dyer-11, Trent McBride-21, George Keeling-5, Reese Parrish-9
Dora 20 13 25 13 71
Eminence 10 10 11 23 54