It was a non-conference bout against a team with a definite size advantage.
Although 6’1 center Justin Wiseman dropped 20 points in the paint, he couldn’t help the Eagles soar above the competition and Benton bested them 74-71.
But scoring wasn’t the Eagles problem Tuesday night.
“We broke our average score of 68 points per contest,” Eldorado head coach TJ Zurliene said. “Defensively we struggled.”
Cole Forby led all scorers with 24 points for the Rangers, with teammate Nathanael Higgins contributing 15.
“We knew Forby could shoot and that they had a couple of big guys who could do some damage if given the opportunity,” Zurliene said. “But no one could have expected them to have shot that well in the second half.”
Scoring began to heat up for the Eagles in the second half as well, but perhaps the biggest turning point for the team came late in the first quarter, when senior guard Joel Boulds hit the floor hard after an attempted layup.
Eldorado was already without their point guard, Tyler Deaton, and the Eagles truly dodged a bullet after Boulds shook off his injury after a few minutes on the bench.
Boulds had only four points in the first half but came up big for the Eagles finishing up the night with 17 points overall.
“Brennan Unthank came up big for us tonight too,” Zurliene said. “He had three three-pointers in the third quarter and really helped us make up for not having Deaton on the floor.”
At half time the Eagles were down by only four points, and though Eldorado put a lot of points on the board in the game’s second half, Higgins and Forby combined for nearly 30 points after half time helping to seal the deal for the Rangers.
With five minutes left in the game Wiseman connected on a stick back to put the Eagles behind by only two.
With two and a half minutes left on the clock and the score at 64-66, Boulds got his fifth and final foul and the Rangers ran away with the game shortly after.
“We’ve shown steady improvement throughout the season and even though we lost tonight I’m still pretty proud of our guys,” Zurliene said.
The Eagles will head back into Black Diamond East Conference action Friday night as they face off against the Vienna Eagles for their second home game this week.