Cards hit sour note with 44-49 loss
The Eudora High School girls basketball team suffered an 44-49 overtime loss Tuesday, but a solid first game from injured junior forward Lauren Kracl provides reason for optimism for rest of the season.
Kracl, who entered the game at the 5:44 mark of the first quarter, struggled offensively early in the game but finished with nine points, 12 rebounds and six steals in her first game of the season.
"She's had a week of practice, and she's had her finger taped in a straight position," Eudora head coach Cara Kimberlin said. "She's just a little hesitant on her shot. She missed a couple, and it gets on her head a little bit."
Kimberlin said it was exciting to see what Kracl and freshman point-guard Michelle Deluna, game-high 22 points, six rebounds, and five steals, were capable of doing for the Cards (2-5) (1-2) this season and in 2003-04.
"They do a good job of passing and cutting for each other," she said.
Deluna, who shot 14-18 from the free throw line, had no fear of taking the ball to the basket. Deluna accounted for 13 of the Cards' 17 points at halftime.
Louisburg found open shots after breaking the Eudora press and wreaked havoc for the Cards with an intense press of its own. The Wildcats were on a 7-1 run late in the second quarter before Eudora sophomore guard Kayla Moyer, two points, three steals, and an assist, drove in for a layup with 11 seconds in the half.
Alissa Hamilton played outstanding defense in the third quarter
With the score tied at 2:35, Kracl scored off an offensive rebound, made a steal, and laid the ball in the basket again. Kimberlin said that was a turning point for Kracl's -- and the team's -- confidence.
"That got us going to where we took the lead back," she said.
Sophomore Joni Ridinger, two points, made both of her free throws, capping the 16-0 run and giving Eudora a 31-24 lead. When the Wildcats finally broke the ice with 7:04 in the game, they were only down five points, 31-26. That's when Kracl connected with Deluna on a give and go under the basket for two points.
The Cards held a 35-29 with 3:22 in the game but missed three of four free throws in the final three minutes. Louisburg junior Amanda Creamer tied the game at 36 with 1:25 remaining.
Eudora attacked defensively as Ridinger came off the bench and grabbed a pair of steals in the final two minutes. The Wildcats, however, held for the final shot until Abel fouled Creamer with 7.4 seconds.
Creamer missed the first free throw and Eudora promptly called a time out. Kracl pulled in the rebound from the second attempt, drove the length of the floor and a got a good look at winning the game with a three-pointer. Unfortunately for Eudora, the shot missed and the teams went into overtime.
The overtime turned into a free throw contest where Louisburg proved to be unbeatable. That was especially true of Louisburg sophomore Lauren Westhoff, who hit eight of eight free throws in the period's final 1:07.
"They made nine of 10 free throws in overtime, and that's huge in a pressure situation," Kimberlin said. "Every loss is tough. We didn't play exceptionally well in the first half, but we played much better in the third quarter. We have yet to play a four-quarter game."
The Cardinals and the Wildcats will meet again Tuesday, Jan. 21, in Eudora.
"We've got a lot of other games to play before that," Kimberlin said. "We'll start looking at film and thinking about Anderson County."
Anderson County entered Tuesday night with a 1-6 record but that mark shouldn't fool anyone, said third-year coach Doug North.
"We've had a pretty rugged schedule," he said. "We've had a lot of close games, and we just hope to breakthrough here soon."
The Bulldogs return seniors Ashley Bowman, Kelsey Suderman, and Jill Fursman, and junior Rachel Ruckus. Anderson County lost Lexi McDonnell, an all-Frontier-League player, to graduation. McDonnell is currently playing Division I basketball at the University if Toledo.
Anderson County defeated class 5A Andover and kept things close with class 3A power Erie, and Frontier League teams Baldwin and Spring Hill. North said facing the Cardinals in Eudora would be a challenge.
"I know they've been without Lauren Kracl," North said. "You're going to be much better when you get a player like Lauren Kracl back."
Moyer's layup cut the deficit to seven, 24-17, but Kimberlin had no idea that it would ignite a 16-0 Eudora run, which didn't end until early in the fourth quarter.
"We talked at halftime about putting more pressure on their shooters and about getting out and putting a hand in the shooters face," she said. "They came out cold but made up for it in overtime."
The Cardinals put on a defensive clinic in the third quarter, outscoring the Cats 11-0. Senior forward Mallorie Cleveland, seven points and three rebounds, scored the first five points of the half, pulling the Cards within two, 24-22.
Seniors Tina Lauber, four points and two steals, and Mary Johnson, three rebounds and a steal, and juniors Rachel Abel, one point and three rebounds, and Jodi Wingebach, one point and two rebounds, and sophomore Alissa Hamilton played outstanding defense in the third