Girls edged out by Osawatomie
A must win turned into a close loss for the Eudora High School girls basketball team Friday at Osawatomie.
"It's disappointing because we're playing with no heart," said Eudora coach Cara Kimberlin. "We make every team look like they're the best team in the league."
Eudora's third-straight loss dropped its record to 5-10 overall and 2-4 in the league. Junior Lauren Kracl, who played one of her best games in last season's overtime victory against the Trojans, was dominant once again. Kracl, who finished with a game-high 23 points and 20 rebounds, scored eight of the Cards' first 10 points.
All of Eudora's starters stayed in the game until the 1:56 mark of the first quarter. But none of the starters expected what would happen next.
Osawatomie junior Crystal Troutman sank a desperation three-pointer, putting the Trojans within one point.
Kimberlin promptly pointed to sophomores Joni Ridinger and Alissa Hamilton and juniors Tracine Bowling and Jodi Wingebach to relieve Kracl, junior Rachel Abel, Kayla Moyer, and seniors Mallorie Cleveland and Tina Lauber.
Only freshman Michelle Deluna (eight points, five rebounds, and five steals) stayed in the game for the Cards.
"I had a point to make," Kimberlin said. "Why do they (starters) have the right to play if they're not playing hard? It's probably something I should have started doing a long time ago."
The second team plus Deluna played well defensively, and Ridinger, Bowling, and junior Kelly Spence each grabbed a rebound. Hamilton chipped in four points.
The Trojans, whose only other victory came over Wellsville, took a 17-12 lead.
After a short but meaningful discussion, Kimberlin inserted the starters with 6:05 in the second quarter.
Cleveland said the Cards got the message from Kimberlin.
"We were all upset with ourselves and we knew then we had to play our best," Cleveland said.
Kracl, Moyer, four points, and Lauber, two points, two steals, and three rebounds, gave the Cards some instant offense, cutting the lead at 20-19.
Kimberlin said Lauber played one of her best games of the season.
"Tina busts her butt every second she's out there," Kimberlin said. "She's going to play hard for me."
Lauber said she's treating every game like it's her last one.
"There's only three weeks left and once it's over, it's over," Lauber said. "It's real hard when you work hard and the little things don't drop."
Troutman nailed her third trey of the game, but Kracl tied it at 23 going into the half-time break.
The Cardinals opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run, capped by a Deluna steal and layup. Deluna's steal kept the Cards' momentum alive while Kracl took a breather. Osawatomie wouldn't let up either, cutting the lead to 35-33. Abel, two points and three steals, stole the ball for Eudora and scored on a layup. Eudora ended the third quarter with a six-point lead and appeared to be playing better basketball.
The Trojans started going to the free throw line and making good on their attempts. They eventually tied the game at 42-42 with 3:16 in the game. Osawatomie also forced Kracl into foul trouble, giving her four fouls with only two minutes left.
Eudora had trouble finding a good shot after the Trojans took a 44-42 lead but Cleveland, four points and three rebounds, made her first field goal of the game on an off balance floater. She was fouled on the play and made the free throw shot, giving Eudora a 45-44 lead.
Osawatomie made its next four free throws and earned the upset victory after Kracl's three-pointer bounced in and out of the rim.
Kimberlin said the loss hurt especially because the Cards will play Frontier League powers Spring Hill and Baldwin this week. Still, Kimberlin believes the Cards can be competitive against the undefeated Broncos and the one-loss Bulldogs.
"You go on the floor every night to be competitive," Kimberlin said. "We need few turnovers and five people on the floor who are going to play with heart and their heads."
Cleveland said the team had a solution to its struggles.
"We all know what we need to do and it's just a matter of everyone putting forth 100-hundred percent," Cleveland said.