A coach’s homecoming
Prairie View Coach Titus Staples' past came back to haunt him last Friday.
As Eudora seventh-grade boys basketball coach from 1996 to 1999, Staples taught nine of the Cardinals 12 players the fundamentals of the game and the importance of teamwork. His former players led Eudora past Staples' current Prairie View squad 67-52 to earn their first Frontier League victory of the season.
"They definitely looked more mature and they all did real well," Staples said. "I think they'll be tough. I'm real impressed with their hustle and heart but they've always had that."
Seniors Zac Tyler, Wes Hinman, Tommy Stein, Jason Burrous, James Blades, Tommy Shutt, juniors Dustin Moyer and Kaleb Niedens and sophomore Tyler Cleveland all played under Staples as seventh-graders. Staples has fond memories of his coaching days at EMS.
"I thought they had really good attitudes and all put out a super effort for me," Staples said. "I remember we had a double overtime game against Louisburg with the (current seniors). We were down by five with 20 seconds and we won."
After four years at Eudora Middle School, Staples, a 1991 graduate of Eudora High School, became an assistant at Natoma High School. He made another stop at Stockton High School before becoming the head coach at Prairie View this season. Staples attributes a lot of his coaching ability to his EHS coaches Bob Sailler and Terry Zerr, who is now an assistant basketball coach at Johnson County Community College.
"I have a lot of respect for the coaches and the staff at EHS," Staples said. "I remember the strong impact they had on my life."
In return, Shutt and Tyler said Staples helped shape them as basketball players.
" I thought it was pretty neat (to play against Staples)," Shutt said. "I always liked him and he's a really good guy. I still have a lot of respect for Coach S."
Tyler said that Prairie View (3-3) was a worthy opponent and he thinks that Staples will enjoy success down the road.
"He was always kind of like a mentor when we were younger and he's got a good team as well," Tyler said. "I'm happy he got a decent head coaching job."
In the game, senior Lear Bowling, who moved to Eudora after Staples left, found his automatic shooting touch early and finished with eight points.
The bench played a huge role in the game for Eudora (3-2) (1-1) as Stein sent in five sets of fresh legs to compete with the eight-man Prairie View roster early in the first quarter. Eventually, those "fresh legs" combined for 33 of Eudora's 67 points.
"Basically, we tried to focus on better execution and all in all we did a better job of that," Coach Stein said.
Niedens (eight points, three rebounds and two steals) provided an early boost while Burrous (nine points, four rebounds and three steals) made a spectacular play as he scored off an offensive rebound as time expired in the first half, giving the Cards a 36-24 lead.
"That was a great tip-in and Burrous really read it well," Stein said.
Prairie View shot the ball well and kept the game close until the fourth quarter when Eudora's solid defense and instant offense took over.
Shutt hit three 3-pointers, including two in the second half, for a season-high nine points while Hinman led all Cardinal scorers with 10 points and six rebounds. Quick point-guard Cleveland often found the open man and finished with two points, three assists and three steals. Tyler (nine points and six rebounds) and Moyer, five points and two rebounds, played aggressively under the boards against the Buffaloes.