Cardinals squeeze by Osawatomie with 48-41 victory
Before Friday's game, the Eudora High School boys basketball team was reminded not to overlook its one-win opponent.
"I think we had a little discussion that we have to get fired up to play ballgames," Eudora coach Scott Stein said.
The Cards (11-4) (3-2) played Friday's game as through the Frontier League championship would be awarded after the game, while the struggling Osawatomie wanted to give something special to their devoted fans on the night of Winter Homecoming. The result was a hotly contested game ultimately won by the Cards, 48-41.
It was Osawatomie that came out with the early momentum and a 15-8 first quarter lead. With the lead, the Osawatomie turned the ballgame into the slow half-court affair they preferred.
"I thought Osawatomie played great basketball tonight," Stein said. "They ran a diamond-and-one and a triangle-and-two (defense). They're young and play hard and when they get a little momentum it becomes a tough ballgame."
Luckily, the Cardinals made five three-pointers in the first half because their other shots just weren't falling.
"We shot pretty good from there, but we weren't doing other things," Stein said of the three pointers. "It was good we made them."
The Osawatomie patiently awaited the opportunity to take a shot while Eudora seemed to rush a lot of their attempts.
Junior point guard Tyler Cleveland scored a career-high 22 points, including three treys.
I've ever seen him play offensively," Stein said.
Cleveland, who scored 13 of his 22 in the first half, rallied the Cards to a 22-22 half-time tie with Osawatomie.
The third quarter was a repeat performance of the first with little offense from either team. Cleveland put the Cards in front 26-25 with four minutes remaining in the third.
After Cleveland's bucket, the Cards gained some momentum. Junior Josh Brouhard, usually a defensive specialist, sank a 15-foot jumper. Brouhard finished with four points, five rebounds, and two steals.
Cleveland's steal and subsequent hoop led to a four-point advantage. Cleveland then dished to senior David Grote (three points, three rebounds and two blocks) for Eudora's first trey of the second half.
Senior Andrew Bell, who usually excels in the half-court offense, showcased his athletic ability by stealing the ball and dribbling the length of the court for a layup. Bell scored three points and grabbed four rebounds.
Junior sixth-man Chris Gabriel (eight points, four rebounds, and two steals) was smooth inside the paint. Gabriel scored an important basket to answer a three-point play from the Trojans.
The score remained 40-32 for several minutes until Gabriel converted on a traditional three-point play.
"It's good to go on the road and win," Stein said of Eudora's third-straight victory. "I don't think a lot of people believed we'd be 11-4 now. If a couple of the right things happened, we could be 13-2."
Senior starter Tyler Jackson contributed two points, four rebounds and two steals, and Kaleb Niedens added five points.
Eudora is at home Friday for a Frontier League game against rival Baldwin. The Cards lost to the Bulldogs 55-54 in Baldwin last season.
"They've got two good guards, and I don't think they've had the year they wanted to have," Stein said. "We lost a really tough game there last year."