Hebron Christian took their final regular season road trip west to face Winona Christian. It was a battle once again between Hebron and Winona as both teams sought District 3-A dominance and the coveted one seed with the Hebron Eagles putting their perfect district record on the line. In the previous meeting on November 30, the Eagles gave Winona everything and more as Hebron used gutsy play off the bench to defeat the Stars in overtime 54-52.
The game originally set for the old Vaiden High School gym was soon relocated to a safer haven at the J.J. Knox Gym occupied by Winona High School. The concrete-floor at the old gym in Vaiden had become too risky for continued play and needed to be addressed before an injury occurred to a player on either team.
The pace of the game was blistering fast and very competitive as Hebron and Winona looked to find their rhythm to start the game. Winona was the first to truly find their rhythm as the Stars out-did the Eagles in the second quarter and entered halftime ahead 25-14. Hebron attempted to claw back into the game, but missed too many opportunities given by Winona to make their threat reality. The Stars were able to close out the game very late in the fourth quarter and win 54-44.
“We were just flat to start the game off,” said head coach Gary Vaughn after the loss to Winona Christian, “I think I just did not have them ready.”
Hebron only trailed 12-7 to Winona entering into the second quarter after an up-tempo first quarter. The Eagles though entered a massive shooting slump which allowed Winona to gain a sizable lead over Hebron by the middle of the second, 21-7. The eight minute drought was finally ended when Hebron’s James Alan Moore knocked down a pull-up jumper from the middle of the key. The added confidence pushed Hebron to close down the deficit and by halftime the Eagles only trailed 25-14.
The Eagles came out a stronger team in the third quarter led by sharp-shooting Hayden Carty. During the third alone, Carty knocked down two three pointers and put in a valiant effort on the defensive side of the ball. Carty’s efforts, along with his teammates, gave Hebron a much needed way back into the contest. At the end of three, Hebron only trailed the Stars 33-27.
Winona came out in the fourth quarter absolutely on fire seemingly unable to miss any shots from the floor. The Stars began to pull away from Hebron but the Eagles continued to chip away at an almost insurmountable lead. With only 2:20 left in the game, the Eagles were trailing 48-37 and needed a spark to get going. That jolt came from a Carty three pointer, his fourth on the night, and the Eagles used the bucket to scrap back into the game. A large amount of missed free throws by the Stars seemed to give the Eagles the opportunities they needed, but Hebron never seemed to take full advantage. Winona finally pulled away in the last thirty seconds and defeated the Eagles 54-44.
“I am pleased with our effort, we never gave up in the fourth quarter,” said Coach Vaughn about the last-ditch effort of his Eagles, “I told them we would get a run soon and we did, we just never closed on the opportunity.”
In the scoring column Carty led the Eagles with 18 points. Also getting into the double-digits, Will Corbin Rogers scored 12 points. Collin Moore (6 points), Drew Myatt (3 points), Taylor Coggins (3 points), and James Alan Moore (2 points) closing out the Hebron scorers.
The Eagles finished up their road games with a loss to Winona, but can look forward to three home games to close out the regular season. Tuesday January 15 is circled on Coach Vaughn’s and everyone’s calendar as the Eagles welcome rival Calhoun Academy to Pheba. With the ten-point loss to the Stars Friday night, the district game against the Cougars of Calhoun becomes very important as the Eagles hope to keep a seeding heading into the district tournament. “We will have to deal with it,” said Vaughn about the loss to Winona, “the big game is now against Calhoun.”