Josh Bradley will sleep better tonight.
It helps that his Eldorado High School girls' basketball team is off to a 2-0 start, thanks in large part to a strong first half by the Eagles, but Bradley can rest a little easier now, getting the Goreville monkey off his back.
Eldorado knocked off Goreville for the first time in five years and had to hold off a feisty Blackcat group that stormed back in the second half.
Bradley didn't shy away from the fact that he felt like his girls played more not to lose down the stretch than they did try to win.
"When a team has beat you for five years like Goreville has and you understand you have a chance to beat that team, the tightness and pressure sinks in and you have the mentality of 'man, I don't want to make a bad pass or I have to make this shot,' instead of just relaxing and playing like we did in the first half."
Eldorado stormed out of the gate, firing on all cylinders in the first half, building a 20-3 lead. A lead that they turned into a 36-18 halftime advantage by shooting 14-of-30 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the charity stripe.
However, in the second half, the tides turned and Eldorado managed just 13 second half points and Goreville's Haley Darnell did what she could to get her club back in the game with 18 second half points.
The 5-foot-6 Goreville (1-1) senior guard finished with a game high 22 points.
"We were just lucky enough that when we jumped out on them in the first half, we were able to limit them to one shot and I don't think we missed much in the first half, we shot the ball really well," Bradley said. "It was a cushion for us to just hang on."
Eldorado got a solid ballgame from the guard combination of Abby Steed and Taylor Goodley. The two combined for 33 points as Goodley led the Eagles with 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the floor, while Steed finished with 16 on 5-of-13 shooting.
Bradley talked in the early going how the absence of incumbent starter Paige Zertuche, who is still out after suffering an ACL injury she sustained in the summer was going to force Goodley and Steed to step up their game and still yet, Bradley believes the guard play is the Eagles' strongest suit at the moment.
"I thought Taylor for not being a point guard and having to fill that spot, going up against a point guard like Darnell, who is established and one of the better point guard in southern Illinois, she played a really good game.
Page 2 of 2 - "As a sophomore, I have been hard on Abby all week. I rode her about help side defense, making sure she attacks, using her her body and her strength and I thought tonight she came out and really responded well."
Rounding out the scoring for Eldorado was Jacqlyn Artman, who despite a thumb injury, pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds and finished with seven points. Erica Graczyk finished with five points and Caitlyn Stafford came off the bench for four points.
Goreville got eight points from both Kayla Webb and Brittney Pritchett, while Gracie Snell, Marbi Martin and Ashlyn Darnell all had two points.
The Eagles return to action Monday at the Harrisburg Girls Basketball Preview Tournament, where they will take on Carmi-White County at 7:30 p.m.
Michael Dann can be reached at mdann@dailyregister.
Goreville 03 15 10 16 - 44
Eldorado 20 16 07 06 - 40
GOREVILLE (1-1) Webb 2-5 3-4 8, H. Darnell 7-17 5-8 22, Pritchett 2-6 2-4 8, Schaede 0-1 0-0 0, Snell 1-3 0-0 2, Martin 1-2 0-0 2, A. Darnell 1-1 0-0 2, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Luke 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 14-37 10-16 44.
ELDORADO (2-0) Steed 5-13 3-5 16, Phillips 0-4 0-0 0, Graczyk 2-11 1-1 5, Goodley 8-16 1-3 17, Artman 2-4 3-7 7, Bramlet 0-0 0-0 0, Stafford 1-2 2-2 4 Totals: 18-50 10-18 49.
3-pointers: Goreville 5-17 (Webb 1-1, Darnell 3-8, Pritchett 2-6, Schaede 0-1) , Eldorado 3-8 (Steed 3-7, Phillips 0-1). Rebounds: Goreville 27, Eldorado 36. Fouls: Goreville 14, Eldorado 15.