Cardinals fly by Oskaloosa, Paola to substate
The Eudora High School boys basketball team had already secured the number-three seed in its the upcoming substate, but Coach Scott Stein wanted the squad to go into the playoffs on the right foot.
"We played a solid game defensively," Stein said of the 80-70 home victory over 3A Oskaloosa (12-7). "We still have work to do. This was only our second game running (the five man motion) the offense."
The Cardinals (11-8) (4-4) received a career-high 25 points from senior Lear Bowling's red-hot shooting in the first half. Bowling also pulled down seven rebounds, scored 20 of the 25 points in the first half, including four three-pointers.
"To say Lear Bowling was hot in the first half would be an understatement," Stein said. "Lear had a great first half."
Oskaloosa senior Blake Reed matched Bowling's 25 points and converted on a series of spectacular old fashioned three-point plays.
The most spectacular play of the game, however, belonged to Eudora senior Tommy Shutt, who missed a trey and then stole the ball from an Oskaloosa player as he flew out of bounds into the gymnasium wall. Shutt managed to save the ball while simultaneously passing it to Bowling for his fourth three-pointer of the game.
"That was one of the turning points of the game," Bowling said. "The bench is very important. They play good defense and score lots of rebounds."
Senior Jason Burrous scored eight of his 10 points in the first half.
The Cards went on an 11-0 run late in the second quarter en route to a 44-32 halftime lead.
The Bears managed to hold Bowling to one field goal in the second half but the Cardinals made sure Bears junior guard Kyle Kelsay, 14 points, wasn't a factor in the second half either.
After Oskaloosa closed to within four points, Eudora point-guard Tyler Cleveland, 10 points and seven assists, found senior Wes Hinman, 10 points and three assists, in the low post. Hinman outmuscled Oskaloosa's 6-foot-4-inch senior center Matt Browning under the basket despite giving up two inches.
Junior Kaleb Niedens, 14 points, came up with a clutch three-pointer, increasing the Cardinals lead to 70-61 late in the fourth quarter. Cleveland showed off his quarterback skills as he "snapped" a pass to senior Zac Tyler, 10 points and seven rebounds, who came through the lane like a freight train as he scored on a layup.
Friday night, the Cardinals defeated 5A Paola (12-7) (6-2) 64-55 on Eudora's senior night.
The Cardinals limited the offensive production of Paola senior David Ward, who is arguably the best player in the Frontier League. Stein assigned defensive specialists Zac Tyler, Niedens and junior Dustin Moyer to cover Ward. The Cardinal trio held Ward to one field goal and four points in the first half.
Bowling scored a team-high 16 points for the Cardinals while Niedens contributed 15 points, including five treys. Senior Nick Green kept the Panthers alive throughout the game with a game-high 24 points.
Burrous gave the Cards a boost when he scored six points and hauled in nine rebounds. Eudora jumped out to a 49-30 lead in the third quarter before the Panthers made their run in the fourth.
Ward started scoring at will, cutting the Cardinals' lead to 53-49 with 3:34 remaining. Cleveland, eight points and nine assists, connected with Hinman, 14 points and five rebounds, in the paint and pitched the ball to Niedens behind the arc for immediate offensive production.
Niedens drained his fifth three-pointer of the game with 2:25 in the game to ensure the Eudora victory. After the victory, Niedens said beating Paola helped avenge for the season-opening loss in football to the Panthers.
"I wanted to beat them extra (because of football)," Niedens said. "I think the win helped us out with our confidence."
Bowling said the Cardinals will be ready for substate and a potential fourth meeting with Frontier League rival Spring Hill.
"We'll definitely win the first two rounds," Bowling said. "Piper will be a hard game because they are the number two seed. If we win the second round, we have to hope that we have an on night and they (Spring Hill) have an off night."
Stein said the Cardinals' next opponent, 5A Gardner-Edgerton (14-5) should be a difficult road test for the Cards when they travel to Gardner Friday. The Trailblazers defeated both Spring Hill and Piper, the top two teams in the Cardinals' substate.
"It is a big ball game," Stein said. "We want to finish above five hundred in the league. I think we are getting better as a team."