Cards bounce past Louisburg, Silver Lake
Eudora High School head coach Scott Stein was waiting for his team to run away from Silver Lake in the second half of Tuesday night's 54-50 victory.
But neither the Cardinals (10-4) (2-2) nor the Eagles could put their opponent away.
"It was just a dead ballgame until the last three minutes," Stein said. "We persevered, got the job done and won. That, I'm happy about."
Eudora senior sharpshooter Kaleb Niedens, who scored 10 of his game-high 13 points in the first half, connected on a three-pointer, starting the game. Niedens also had five rebounds and made three-of-four free throws.
Silver Lake's Kyle Kruger, a nephew of former Atlanta Hawks and Kansas State great Lon Kruger, can hit the three-pointer from anywhere on the court. Eudora senior Tyler Jackson, four points and an assist, and junior Josh Brouhard, four points and two rebounds, held Kruger in check for most of the game. He finished with 13 points.
"He'll load it up and shoot it from downtown," Stein said. "Most of the night we did a good job on him."
Eudora senior David Grote, seven points and five rebounds, played for the first time since injuring his knee in a Jan. 17 game against Spring Hill. A regular starter, Grote entered the game as Eudora's sixth man. Stein said Grote exceeded expectations Tuesday night.
"He had a good practice last night, and I probably played him more than I intended to play him," Stein said.
Eudora senior Andrew Bell, nine points and two rebounds, enjoyed one of his best offensive games this season. Bell added a pair of baseline jumpers as Eudora built a 13-10 first quarter lead. Junior Chris Gabriel, six points and three rebounds, also contributed to Eudora's first half success.
Eudora junior Jesse Montgomery, two points and two rebonds, gave
Eudora a boost in the second quarter. Junior Tyler Cleveland, 10 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals, began a three-point fest when he nailed the Cards' second trey of the game.
Silver Lake's Zach Phelps answered with another trey before Niedens swished a three after receiving Jackson's inbounds pass.
The Cards took a 28-22 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
Cleveland started the third quarter where he left off, connecting on another three-pointer. Bell converted on a traditional three-point play moments later.
But the Cards offense became lackluster, and the Eagles mounted a comeback. Kruger connected on a three-pointer that he launched near half court, giving Silver Lake its first advantage since the first quarter. Silver Lake's Geoff Spade put the Eagles ahead 37-36 at the end of the third quarter.
Brouhard broke a 39-39 tie with a pair of free throws, putting Eudora ahead. With 3:23 in the game, Grote made one of two free throws but Niedens rebounded the miss and was fouled. Niedens made both free throws, giving Eudora a 46-41 lead.
The Cardinals played their first Frontier League game Friday night since a Jan. 10 overtime loss to Anderson County. Friday night's opponent was Louisburg (8-5), a team the Cards beat 59-55 in Louisburg Jan. 14 in a non-league game.
The rematch was well worth the 17-day layoff.
The Cardinals, who trailed for three quarters in the first meeting against Louisburg, came out with a patient offense. Eudora defeated the Wildcats 60-48 last Friday.
Cleveland, 12 points, beat his man to the hole nearly every time in the first quarter. Niedens, game-high 19 points and four rebounds, was connecting on most of his outside shots. It was Niedens' defensive efforts against Louisburg's Brad Marks that impressed Stein.
Eudora looked to its bench for strong efforts from juniors Aaron Westerhouse, who nailed a three-pointer only seconds after entering the game, Jesse Montgomery, four points, two rebounds and one assist, and senior Curtis Hickman, who pulled down a pair of rebounds and played aggressive defense. The Cards led 32-27 at the halftime break.
Louisburg started the second half with a 5-0 run before the Wildcats' Tyler O'Brien was called for goaltending, giving Eudora a 34-32 lead.
The turning point of the game was when Jackson, 11 points, three rebounds, and two assists, connected on a three-pointer and was the victim of an intentional foul. The Cards built an eight-point lead, 53-45, after Brouhard, two points and three rebounds, made a wide-open layup.
Gabriel, starting in his second straight game, scored five points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds. Bell added four points and three boards.
With five Frontier League games remaining, Stein said the Cards would have their backs against the wall in pursuit of a league title. The Cards travel to Osawatomie, a one-win team, Friday.