Eureka girls lose state semifinal thriller to Round Mountain

Eric Dahlberg
Eureka County High girls basketball coach Travis Gallagher talks to his team before the start of the second overtime in the state semifinals in Las Vegas Friday afternoon. The Lady Vandals fell 74-70 in double overtime to Round Mountain.

“A great season, very successful, but disappointing at the end,” is the way coach Travis Gallagher described the season for the Eureka Lady Vandals basketball this year. “We went a lot further than a lot of people thought we might do this year with such a young team. Very proud of what we accomplished,” he said.

In the semifinal game in the 1A state tournament at Durango H9igh in Las Vegas against Round Mountain last Friday night Eureka suffered a heart wrenching 74-70 loss in double overtime.

Eureka (19-6) had outplayed and dominated the Knights in the first half, leading by as many as 11 points. They were holding Round Mountain star Alyssa Hanks to only one point.

But Eureka star Angelika Townsend suffered a game ending knee injury near the end of the half. Gallagher said, “She was driving around another player and her knee just gave out on her. She said she heard it pop and was in considerable pain.

The girls were very concerned about her in the locker room at half, and in the third quarter we just came out flat. That was a devastating blow for us and a lot of our downfall in the third quarter.” An MRI was scheduled this week for evaluation. Round Mountain (16-8) roared back with 26 points in the third quarter for a 42-38 lead. They tightened up their defense and used a 17-7 run that quarter to take the momentum.

Hanks scored 33 points in the second half to finish with 34. Teammate Hannah Swafford had 17 points and Ariana Marich added 10.

Gallaher said, “She (Hanks) didn’t miss much in the second half, she shot very well. We tried to limit the ball to her, but she still was able to get it. Both my posts, Alia Minoletti and Sheradyn Slaybaugh, had four fouls in the latter stages and were playing a little soft.”

For Eureka, Cody Gibbs had 30 points, 17 steals and three rebounds. Katie Damele 16 points and Morgan Thomas had 11.

Together the teams combined for the most points ever in girls 1A state tournament game.

Gallagher said Round Mountain, “was playing their defense out high and my three guards did not get the penetration we were looking for. They were able to keep the pressure on the outside and not have to back off at all to work the inside game. Never got very good penetration.”

Still, the Vandals had battled back in the fourth quarter to take a 55-52 lead with 1:47 left in regulation, but Hanks nailed a three-point shot at 1:32 and added two free throws with 43 seconds remaining for a 57-55 Round Mountain lead.

Damele tied the game with a score with 16 seconds left and the game went to the first overtime.

In the second overtime, Round Mountain outscored the Vandals 7-1 down the stretch to win.

Eureka trailed 72-70 with 11 seconds remaining and called a timeout, but couldn’t score. Hanks had the ball and was fouled and made two free throws with 1.4 seconds left to secure the win.

But Round Mountain was thoroughly handled by Owyhee in the championship as the Braves won their second straight title 65-37.

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