Trojans slip past Rams by 4 at home
Hot Springs (17-7, 11-2 5A South) has slid into a spot to compete for a 5A South regular season championship.
In Troy’s latest win Monday, they slipped past crosstown rival Lakeside (9-13, 4-9 5A South), 6359, in a thriller at Trojan Arena.
“We played well, man, we really did,” Lakeside head coach Eddie Lamb said. “We have played well the last two games. We lost in overtime 62-59 to Sheridan Friday. We had every chance in the world Monday.”
“It is always a good rivalry game,” Hot Springs head coach Antoni Lasker said. “I felt like we played well.”
Hot Springs’ monster win, 5650, at Lake Hamilton on Feb. 3 catapulted the Trojans into second place in the conference.
Lakeside’s young Rams have been in multiple close games this season.
“We finished the game with three sophomores on the floor,” Lamb said. “We are carrying a lot of momentum and trying to win every game for our upperclassmen.”
“It is always good to win those rivalry games,” Lasker said. “For us, it is another opportunity to get better and hopefully get to where we can reach our ultimate goal. We want to compete for a state championship.”
Junior Octavious Rhodes scored 21 huge points for the Trojans and collected 10 rebounds for a double-double.
“In the first quarter Hot Springs jumped up on us by eight points early,” Lamb said. “Right before half senior Jake Bishop hit a big 3-pointer to cut their lead to eight at halftime.”
The halftime score was 31-23 in favor of the Trojans.
“We had a spurt in that third period where we did not make shots,” Lasker said. “We had open looks that we work on every day and we just did not make shots. Basketball is one of those games where it is going to be make or miss.”
“Last time we played them we just could not get the ball down the floor,” Lamb said. “This time we were able to move the ball down the floor and get in our offense.”
Lakeside sophomore River Cook had 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks against the Trojans.
“Going into the fourth period we were down four points,” Lamb said. “We outscored them four points in the third quarter. Hot Springs is extremely quick and talented. We cut the lead to two points, with the ball and a chance to tie the game. We missed an easy one around the basket.”
“In that fourth period we decided to back off on the press,” Lasker said. “We went half-court man-to-man. That is where we were able to separate ourselves. We were able to hold them off and win buy four.”
Junior Tyrell Honey racked up 11 points, three rebounds and eight assists against the Rams.
Lakeside stats junior A.J. Howard had a career-high 29 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double.
“A.J. hit a big step back three in the corner when we needed it,” Lamb said. “He does not shoot a lot of threes for us. It was huge for us when we were making a little run on them there at the end of the fourth period. He also hit a few big free throws down the stretch.”
“Highlight play had to be from senior Derrick Hicks,” Lasker said. “It was his defensive play. He is a dog defensively. He did a great job on their point guard, sophomore Sloan Hayes. Hicks held Hayes to six points. If you can take away the other team’s point guard then that will give you an opportunity to do something to be able to win the game.”
Hicks scored seven points, six rebounds, three assists and grabbed four steals Monday.
“We really played good against a really good ballclub,” Lamb said. “It was a good Hot Springs and Lakeside game for sure.”
Lakeside is battling for the fifth-place spot in the conference for a shot at the state playoffs.
“We want to finish as strong as we can,” Lamb said. “We have a tough game on the road Thursday against Pine Bluff. We finish our regular season with Benton. We are fighting for the No. 5 spot. We are trying to carry that momentum into next season.”
All roads lead to Pine Bluff (19-6, 13-0 5A South) for conference glory. No. 2 Trojans draw the No. 1 Zebras on Feb. 21 in the last game of the regular season.
“I am a one-game-at-a-time type coach,” Lasker said. “After we get through Texarkana we will move on to White Hall. Pine Bluff is going to be a physical game. Those guys are at the mountaintop and have been in this conference the last three seasons. We want to solidify ourselves as a team to be reckoned with going into state. We are going to take it one game at a time.”