Mules "manhandle" Eldorado
Fairfield romps to 74-40 BDC win; improves to 6-1
FAIRFIELD – The Eldorado Eagles and head coach Josh Bradley arrived in Fairfield for their conference matchup with the Mules riding a seven-game winning streak.

After the first few minutes of action Friday, there was zero chance win number eight was going to happen on this night.

The Mules rolled past the visitors by dominating from the opening tap, forcing more mistakes in the first half then they allowed points.

Coach Scott McElravy's Mules pressured the Eagles into 24 turnovers, 20 coming in the first 16 minutes of play.

Of the first 22 possessions, Eldorado missed nine shots and committed 11 turnovers.

Meanwhile the Mules were doing anything they wanted on the offensive end.

They opened the game on a 20-2 run and never let up until the fourth quarter featured a mercy rule continuous clock.

Fairfield improved to 6-1 on the season and 2-0 in the Black Diamond East with a resounding 74-40 conquest of Eldorado at the Mule Barn.

“We hang our hats on our defense and that kind of started last year. We have some pretty decent athletes for a 2A school,” said Coach McElravy. “We were getting steals and turning them over. I also looked at our stat sheet and half time and think we had seven or eight different guys with an assist. I'm really proud of the kids for sharing the ball.”

Eleven different Fairfield combatants inked the book in the victory with three ended up in double-figures in only about three quarters of play.

Junior forward Landon Zurliene led the Mules with 16 points and senior Luke Dagg threw down 14.

Colin Massie, another junior guard, added 11.

Noah McElravy (nine) and Wyatt Gilbert (eight) also had good nights offensively.

Senior Kane Hixenbaugh also added five points in the victory.

However it was the defensive effort that set the runaway win in motion.

Besides the turnovers, Fairfield coerced Eldorado into a 15-of-40 (37.5 percent) shooting performance.

As if the struggle wasn't difficult enough, the Eagles were just 5-of-14 from the foul line.

“We knew as a staff coming into this game that, even though we were 7-0, we have some growing up to do,” said Coach Bradley about his club. “We were hoping to be a little more competitive than we were tonight. We let them dictate how fast we wanted to play and we you get down to a team like them early it becomes an ugly night in a hurry.”

The Mules scored about every way the could imagine in the game.

Drives to the basket, steals turning into lay ups and connecting six times from the 3-point arc.

Gilbert, Zurliene and McElravy hit 20-footers in the opening quarter.

Hixenbaugh and Dagg each converted transition chances and then the two combined on another easy basket with Dagg taking a pass for a score that added to the Eagles' misery.

The McElravy and a drive in the lane by Massie made it 19-2 with 1:40 remaining.

If Coach Bradley was looking for a bright spot in the game it was the play of 6-foot freshman Parker Price.

Price was the only player in double-digits in points with 16.

He scored a basket in the first quarter and added three more in the second frame.

But he got little in the way of help from his teammates offensively as Eldorado had no other player score more than four points.

The Mules added a 10-1 run to begin the second quarter and closed the half with an 8-3 move.

Zurliene added yet another 3-point bomb and Dagg flushed down a one-handed dunk as part of six points in the quarter.

A pair of free throws by McElravy extended the lead at intermission to 42-12.

“They (Eldorado) are a big rival of ours in basketball and football and the kids knew they were 7-0 coming in here tonight. We play ten conference games so you have to win your games at home and hopefully win some on the road, too. It was a big night,” said Coach McElravy. “I'm super proud of the kids. I have a great group to work with this year and it has been a lot of fun so far.”

Sometimes teams with huge halftime leads will come out in sort of a lull in the early going of the third quarter.

Any worries that Coach McElravy had about his team being complacent didn't last long.

Just nine seconds into the second half the Mules scored on a Dagg lay in.

Hixenbaugh and Zurliene followed with buckets that began yet another scoring run.

Dagg netted a nice reverse lay in off an assist by Zurliene.

As Gilbert collected his second 3-point bomb, this one from the top of the arc, Fairfield led 55-20 with 4:09 left in the third quarter.

Proving that they have a lot of weapons, Fairfield also got a great contribution from Massie in the third quarter.

The 5-foot-10 junior guard scored nine-straight points for his squad to close the frame.

He scored on a pair of drives in the paint, a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer from the left corner, making it 64-29 at the end of three.

“They (Fairfield) have length and size and everyone off of their bench can score,” said Coach Bradley. “They are a very deep and talented basketball team. Come February I think they will make the Black Diamond proud in the postseason.”

Mostly reserves mopped up the final eight minutes without stoppage.

The Mules offensive numbers were impressive.

Coach McElravy's squad hit 63 percent from the floor overall (29-of-46) with 23-of-32 inside the arc.

The Mules held a 23-17 rebounding edge and they survived 13 turnovers, six of which came in a bit of a sloppy second quarter in a “nit picking” sense.

Fairfield has a pair of BDC games in the coming week as they host Hamilton County on Tuesday and then travel on Friday to Edwards County before the Christmas break.

The Mules are the top-seed and defending champions of the Eldorado Holiday Tournament which will begin on December 26.

“The (EHT) is going to be really good. We have both Herrin and Carterville on our side (of the bracket) and also West Frankfort. So I think we are going to see a lot of River-to-River teams,” said Coach McElravy. “We know Massac County (#2 Seed) is on the bottom part of the bracket and they are really good. We hope to repeat and we know it is going to be tough.”

The Eagles will host Johnston City and travel to Hamilton County to close out their week before hosting the EHT.

Eldorado is the number three seed, behind number two Massac County.

Both are in the bottom part of the bracket.

“I think it (EHT) is going to be one of the most competitive tournaments we have had. Fairfield and Massac are the top tier teams but from them on down it looks very balanced,” said Coach Bradley. “On a given night when you are talking about 15, 16 and 17 year old kids in front of 5,000 people on a Friday or a Saturday night, anything can happen. I think this could be one of our better tournaments in the last several years.”


Eldorado (40) – Cantrell 1 0 0-0 2, Byrd 0 0 0-2 0, Sizemore 0 1 0-0 3, Whitlock 1 0 0-2 2, Shewmaker 1 0 1-2 3, N. Milligan 2 0 0-0 4, Smith 0 0 0-2 0, Henson 1 0 1-2 3, Price 7 0 2-3 16, Bethel 1 0 1-1 3, T. Milligan 0 0 0-0 0, Lester 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-14, 3FG-1, FT-5-14, PF-16.

Fairfield (74) – McElravy 1 1 4-4 9, Gilbert 1 2 0-0 8, Hixenbaugh 2 0 1-2 5, Zurliene 5 2 0-2 16, Dagg 7 o op2 14, Massie 3 1 2-2 11, Lane 0 0 1-2 1, Pruitt 0 0 1-2 1, Barger 1 0 1-1 3, Best 0 0 0-0 0, Vaughn 2 0 0-1 4, Taylor 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-23, 3FG-6, FT-10-18, PF-16.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.