Wellsville slows tempo, earns last-second win
The Eudora High School boys basketball team met Wellsville High School's stifling defense head-on and suffered a heartbreaking 40-38 homecourt loss Tuesday.
"Wellsville really did a good job and stayed patient on offense," Coach Scott Stein said. "They just get after you defensively and we didn't get any transition buckets."
Senior center Wes Hinman played a strong first half and finished with 16 points (12 in the first half), seven rebounds and two assists. The Cards held a 19-18 advantage at halftime.
"We weren't shooting real well," Hinman said. "We were looking forward to this game but we are going to turn around and put this game behind us."
The Eagles' defense forced Eudora to take outside shots and Eudora 6-2 junior center Kaleb Niedens, five points, came off the bench to nail a three pointer and contribute another bucket.
"I think Kaleb can play," Stein said. "He did a good job for us and handled the ball well."
Tommy Stein hit his head on the court in the second half and left the game as a silenced crowd watched. After the game, Stein did not know if the senior center would play Friday at Prairie View.
As Wellsville attempted to run out the clock with 90 seconds left and a 38-34 lead, senior guard Lear Bowling stole the ball and scored an uncontested layup. Bowling and senior Zac Tyler dove for the ball, tangled up a Wellsville player and forced a jump ball with 30 seconds to play. Sophomore point guard Tyler Cleveland, seven points and two steals, then connected with Hinman for the tying basket. The Eagles used their patient offense and waited for an open baseline shot to secure the two-point victory with two seconds left.
Eudora (2-2) (0-1) will not face Wellsville (1-4) again this season because the two teams play in different January tournaments and WHS is classified as a 3A school.
On Thursday night, the Cardinals lost to undefeated Spring Hill 68-48, the top-rated team in class 4A, in the championship game of the Cardinal Invitational. Bishop Ward, a team that EHS defeated in the semfinal round, beat Baldwin 65-47 in the third-place game.
"We didn't handle the pressure very well," Coach Stein said. "I don't think we played that bad of defense. Basically, we got out of sync."
Eudora trailed 15-8 after the first quarter, but Spring Hill increased the lead substantially by scoring five points in the final four seconds of the first half, including a desperation three pointer, giving them 36-18 halftime advantage.
Hinman, Tyler and Bowling each scored nine points while seniors Jason Burrous and Matt Clark came off the bench to score six and four points, respectively. Hinman also pulled down seven rebounds.
Eudora will get two more chances to upset the three-time defending Frontier League champions. They will travel to Spring Hill on Tuesday and face the Broncos at Eudora Jan. 11.
The Cardinals will have a reunion Friday in La Cygne when they play Frontier League rival Prairie View (3-2). Prairie View first-year coach Titus Staples is a 1991 Eudora High graduate and coached many of the current Eudora players while they were at Eudora Middle School.
"He's a great guy and it will be good to play against his team." Hinman said.