Cards continue hot streak at Wellsville
Eudora High School boys basketball coach Scott Stein said his Cardinals were ready to contend for the Frontier League title after opening the season 4-1.
"I really believe the league is wide open," Stein said. "Louisburg is playing well, but for the rest of us it looks like a dogfight."
The Cardinals (4-1) (1-0) defeated rival Wellsville 62-51 Tuesday night at Wellsville High School.
"It's awful sweet for me to do it in their house," Stein said. "It's always good to beat a rival on their home floor."
However, the Cardinals fifth straight game away from its home court wasn't exactly a cakewalk. The Eagles (2-3) (0-1) defeated Paola 59-52 in the Olathe South Tournament last week and kept things close against the Cards Tuesday night.
Senior Kaleb Niedens, who scored 12 of his career-high 22 points in the first half, showed how much he's improved his accuracy since his strong junior campaign. Niedens, who nailed three three-pointers, scored nine of the Cards' first 16 points. Junior Josh Brouhard, seven points and five rebounds, scored all of his points at the charity stripe, and played solid defense for Eudora.
The Cardinals defense only allowed Wellsville to score two points until the halfway mark of the first quarter. Combined with the fourth quarter of the Turner game, the Cards allowed a mere four points in 12 minutes.
The Eagles, however, closed the gap to within eight, 28-20 at halftime.
Wellsville didn't waste any time getting back in the game once the third quarter began. The Eagles put together a 6-0 run, cutting into the Eudora lead. Stein said the Cards played poorly with their defensive transition and committed too many turnovers.
Junior Chris Gabriel, 15 points and 10 rebounds, sank a hook shot in the paint, got fouled, and made his free throw attempt, giving Eudora a 39-35 advantage. Then, Niedens' third three-pointer of the night happened during a fast break.
"Chris does a good job, rebounds well, works hard and gets better every ball game," Stein said.
Gabriel said he enjoyed his young varsity career thus far.
"I think we're starting to work a lot better together and it's really helping us," Gabriel said. "They're (Wellsville) our big rival so it's a really big win."
Eudora received its biggest momentum-builder of the game when junior point guard Tyler Cleveland, five points, five rebounds, five assists, and four steals, connected with junior guard Micheal Pringle, who beat the third quarter buzzer with a three pointer, 47-39.
Seniors Tyler Jackson, two points and two rebounds, and David Grote, seven points, also contributed for the Cardinals.
Gabriel's show-stopping block added an exclamation point to Eudora's victory against the Eagles.
After playing two road games and three neutral site contests, the Cards will play Prairie View (3-1) Thursday at Eudora High School.
"It seems like we've been on the road forever," Stein said. "We have a shot at going 2-0 in the league. That would be great going into Christmas."
Prairie View first-year coach Keith Smith said the Buffalos had some experienced players on their roster but facing Eudora would be an enormous challenge. The Buffs lost to Frontier League member Anderson County but defeated Linn County rivals Pleasanton and Jayhawk Linn as well as Drexel, Mo.
The Buffs start four seniors and a junior and boast of seven seniors on the roster.
"We're still improving and we have a lot of rough spots to work out," Smith said. "I know Eudora is a very good ball team. I know they'll be exceptionally tough."
Smith also said Thursday night's game would present some other obstacles for his squad.
"It's a long drive for us and a late night getting home for finals the next day," Smith said.