ELDORADO — A two-minute span in the third quarter made the difference in Murphysboro’s 65-58 win over previously unbeaten Eldorado.
The Red Devils used their speed to get to the bucket which fueled a six-point run, pushing the Murphysboro lead to seven points. That seven-point bulge was the largest of the game for either team at that point.
Senior point guard Jaron Gaston did most of the heavy lifting for Murphysboro during that span. He made a free throw after being fouled on a drive and scored on another layup. DeMari Greenwood got the final bucket during that span on a nice feed from Jeremy House.
“We knew that (speed) was probably going to be something we were going to struggle with,” said Eldorado coach Josh Bradley. “They could push us around, and when they have shooters around the perimeter you get up tight and you can’t help as much. The Gaston kid just gashed us in the third quarter and he just kind of took that game over.”
“Early on their physical nature, strong tough kids, were winning the battle,” said Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy. “I thought it kind of switched in the second half. I don’t know if they got a little winded or what, but our speed helped prevail us. It got us some good runs there.”
Gaston finished with 22 points.
“He had been struggling a little bit,” said Murphysboro coach Daryl Murphy. “It looked like tonight he had a little more go in his step. He is a take charge type player. I thought his quickness out front was the difference in the game when we were able to run the clock and beat them one-on-one.”
Then, with time running out in the third quarter, Gaston gave the Red Devils a 47-38 lead when he banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
“I think that was huge, to get that momentum going in,” Bradley said. “It’s like ‘OK we’re five points … Oh, crap it’s eight points.’ You’re kind of down when that fourth quarter starts. The kid had to make a tough shot. He faded away and threw it in off the backboard. That’s just one of those things.”
Then in the fourth quarter, Murphysboro spread the floor in order to protect House and Greenwood who were both in foul trouble. The strategy paid off handsomely as it took Eldorado nearly four minutes to score.
“I wanted to kill some of that clock down,” Murphy said. “Our speed allowed us to do that, beat them to the hole a few times. We had some guys make some really good plays in there.”
In the meantime, Eldorado simply couldn’t create any turnovers out of the spread.
“He was able to just hold it,” Bradley said. “And, with their speed, they were able to get away from our trap before we got there. They were just kind of able to hold that lead. When you get beat by a good team like this, you just learn from it and go on.”
And, when the Eagles were forced to foul, Murphysboro cashed in. The Red Devils hit 18-of-21 free throws.
House led all scorers with 26 points.
The Eagles put four players in double figures. Braden Attebury led the way with 20. Ray May scored 16 and Jacob Traxler and Joe Mayberry each had 10. Eldorado is now 23-1.