DECATUR — Springfield Southeast was undermanned, but undeterred.
The Class 3A No. 3 Spartans were without 6-foot-4 all-stater Anthony Fairlee, who is out for the season, and 6-8 Michael Tyler, who missed the game with an injury, but Eisenhower had no match for Southeast on the glass.
Eisenhower was outrebounded 41-20 in an 87-69 home loss in a Central State Eight Conference game on Tuesday night.
Do-it-all guard Terrion Murdix, who is committed to Division I Chicago State, nearly out-rebounded the entire Eisenhower (6-9, 3-4) team. He had 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Spartans. The Spartans (14-1, 7-0) also took advantage of 18 Eisenhower turnovers.
"Rebounds and turnovers were the game," Eisenhower coach Rodney Walker said. "You can not give up that may rebounds. They're not a super big team. Their guards aren't much bigger than our guards."
Murdix got help from Stepheon Sims, who had six rebounds to go along with his 13 points. Walker says his team knows how to rebound, but has to give extra to compensate for the lack of height, with no player listed on the roster who is taller than 6-4.
"The chemistry is decent on offense, they've got to look in the mirror and learn how to rebound a little better," Walker said. "They know how to rebound, they've got to go ahead and do it and sacrifice their bodies and not turn the ball over.
"Sometimes guys have four or five opportunities on the rebounds and you can't win like games like that. You can do all the drills in the world if you don't go out and do the small things."
Despite the trouble on the glass and the turnovers, Eisenhower still scored and repeatedly kept the game within striking distance, despite a few Spartan runs. Southeast went on a 15-0 run in just under three minutes midway through the second quarter that turned a 26-14 Eisenhower lead to a 39-26 Southeast advantage.
The Panthers climbed back within seven in the third quarter, and had a chance to close the gap with Murdix on the bench for roughly the last 3:30 of the third quarter, but a 13-3 run to end the third quarter and start the fourth quarter was too much for Eisenhower to weather.
Tuesday was the first time Eisenhower freshman Brylan Phillips had seen the Spartans, who finished as the Class 3A runner-up to Chicago Morgan Park last season.
"Southeast is a good team and they know what they're doing on and off the court and they have real good team chemistry," Phillips, who had 12 points, said. "Whenever they feel like a team is close to them, they find a way to pull through."
Eisenhower got double-digit scoring efforts from Phillips, Lunden Cook (14 points), Cam Rowe (12) and R.J. Walker (15), but couldn't match the size inside, specifically to Southeast big man Herb McMath.
McMath had 13 points, and did damage in the paint.
"That was the thing to get the ball to Herbie automatically," Murdix said. "We knew they had five guards out there and we were trying to force the ball into the paint as much as we could."
For a while in the first half, prior to the 15-0 run, Eisenhower looked poised to hang with the Spartans. But Southeast is a veteran team, and head coach Lawrence Thomas has his players in the right spot in every circumstance. Walker has had success against Southeast, but it comes when his team stays the course.
"Southeast is a poised team," Walker said. "They're not going to try to beat you individually. If you try to stick to your principles, for most of the game you're going to be in it. It's when you start doing individual things outside your prism is when you get in trouble and they pick you apart. They stick to the script."