Eldon girls basketball ends run with loss to Blair Oaks in sectionals
After winning a district title for the first time in 31 years, Eldon took the floor for the Class 4 state playoffs Wednesday night against a familiar Tri-County Conference foe in Blair Oaks.
The Falcons proved to be too much to handle on their own home floor in a 62-46 win over the Mustangs, bringing the program's run to an end in sectionals as one of the 16 remaining teams in the state.
"It was a great environment and a very tough place. I think our youth caught up to us a little in this one, but we gained such great experience from every step we were able to advance in the postseason," Eldon coach Isaiah Rhine said. "Overall, this has been a great year of progress for our girls and our program. The commitment of this group to come in every day and give their best effort and represent our school the way they have has helped point our program in a new positive direction. We really made great progress on our goals of being tougher and being more together. We are going to continue to work constantly to get better and keep improving."
It was an uphill climb for Eldon from the start as they trailed 10-2 from the start, but closed the gap to 19-16 early in the second quarter and trailed 24-17 at the half. The Falcons eventually found a groove, though, and managed to extend the advantage to by as many as 25. The Mustangs never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
Eldon's Haley Henderson led all scorers with 28 points, collected seven rebounds and hit six of the team's nine 3-pointers on the night while Sydney Halderman knocked down 10 points of her own to go with five rebounds and a trio of assists. Jaci Mueller finished with six points and seven rebounds, respectively.
The Mustangs finish the year at 9-16, but a run to sectionals with a fairly young team consisting of eight underclassmen may be an encouraging sign for the program going forward. At the same time, Rhine found it difficult to say farewell to his trio of seniors in his first year as a head coach.
"The future of our program is very bright because we are so young and we have so many girls invested and believing in what we are doing. Despite that, it is still hard to see the season come to an end," Rhine noted. "I've enjoyed every day of my first year as a head coach, but one of the hardest things I've had to do is say goodbye to our three seniors- Elizabeth Rush, Cassidy Prater and Taylor Henderson. Their commitment to helping change the direction of this program and leadership this season has been special. I'm so thankful for the year we got to spend together."
Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-346-2132