Eureka Holds On in Greenville Shootout, 124-119

Photo by Elly Maier.
Photo by Elly Maier.

EUREKA – The Eureka men's basketball team persevered in another memorable, high-energy shootout against Greenville on Tuesday, edging the Panthers 124-119.

Eureka threatened to pull away midway through the second half, but the Panthers surged back and made the Red Devils earn down it the stretch.

The maroon and gold leaned on its experience and executed its game plan well enough to hold on and move to 4-2 in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

"I think the score is a little bit closer than the game was," 15th-year EC head coach Chip Wilde said. "They definitely put a scare in us, but credit to our guys. They did what they had to do to win the game, and sometimes when you play Greenville, you have guys that don't have experience against it, and I thought we did a good job and completed the task."

Eureka big man Logan Dorethy (Hamilton, Ill./West Hancock/Hannibal LaGrange) racked up a game-high and season-high 36 points on 18-for-26 shooting and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. The 6-foot-7 junior played a big role in the win, contributing finishes off the press breaker and battling in the paint in the half-court game.

Charlie McKinty (Elmwood, Ill./Elmwood/Illinois College) was nearly perfect offensively, shooting 10-for-10 from the floor, knocking down two 3-pointers and making 4-of-4 free throws while contributing six rebounds, three assists and one steal. He finished with 26 points.

Ian Milsteadt (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria/Illinois Central College) tallied 17 points in 22 minutes despite dealing with foul trouble from early on. The senior guard shot 6-for-10 and made 5-of-5 free throws attempts. He also notched five rebounds – including several big ones down the stretch – along with three assists and two steals.

Austyn Ellison (Hudson, Ill./Bloomington Central Catholic) led the way off the bench, posting 11 points and finishing one assist shy of a double-double in 20 minutes.

Senior point guard Jalen Hosea (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods), meanwhile, thrived in one of the most important roles in a game against "The System." He was responsible for taking care of the ball and withstanding Greenville's unceasing press, and he ended up with the first double-double of his career, recording 10 points and a career-high 13 assists while only turning the ball over once in 31 minutes on the floor.

After the win, Hosea said that the key was "sticking together."

"That's what we've been talking about a lot," Hosea said, "And keeping our composure. We know with this team that they can beat anybody on any given night, and being up 20 is like being up by three or four points, so we've got to always keep our composure, and that's what we did tonight."

The Red Devils led for the vast majority of the game. They went into halftime up by six points and expanded it to a game-high 18 points midway through the second half.

After a 7-0 Greenville run that began with less than six minutes to play, the Red Devils found themselves clinging to a three-point advantage with 4:54 left.

J'Len Crawford (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington) ended the drought with a bucket off an assist by Hosea to extend it back to five, and a couple of possessions later, Dorethy scored off another Hosea assist to make it a seven-point game.

The Panthers were soon back within four, but that was as close as they would come the rest of the way. Ellison and Milsteadt both made a pair of free throws in the final minute to seal it.

The win moved the Red Devils to 4-3 against Greenville's System in Hosea's four seasons at Eureka.

"My freshman year coming in, this is what I was here for," Hosea said. "I know that when they recruited me, this is one of the first things that they brought up, was these Greenville games, and I think I was prepared. And I think playing with guys like Hank Thomas and Dakota (Bennington) – real high-IQ, skilled guys – prepared me for today."

On Tuesday, the Red Devils received contributions from 14 different players, with 10 different players getting on the board.

Crawford added seven points and six rebounds. Sophomore big man Lane Thompson (Dwight, Ill./Dwight) notched six points and three rebounds in seven efficient minutes, and Jordan Brooks (St. Joseph, Ill./St. Joseph-Ogden/Lincoln Land) chipped in with five points, including one big second-half 3-pointer.

Greenville's Kenneth Cooley tallied a team-high 29 points, while Travis Dickey (18), Romello Ball (16), Jarred Johnson (15), Kaidyn Johnson (13) and Julius Erby (13) all finished in double figures.

The Red Devils shot 67.1 percent from the floor and finished with less than 25 turnovers – a feat against The System.

With the win, the Red Devils (8-9, 4-2 SLIAC) moved up to third place in the SLIAC, trailing only Blackburn (5-1) and Fontbonne (4-1). Eureka will next look to complete a season sweep over Westminster (6-11, 2-4) on Saturday at 3 p.m.

"Our goal is always to play our best basketball in the third week of February, and we're still trending upwards," Wilde said. "I don't think we've peaked. I think we still have our best basketball ahead of us."