Girls to face Bulldogs in losers’ bracket
The Eudora High School girls basketball team started to dominate the first round of the Wellsville Top Gun Tournament against Gardner-Edgerton Tuesday night.
The problem was its domination didn't begin until late in the third quarter.
"They had the ball for 80 percent of the first half," Eudora coach Cara Kimberlin said. "We dug ourselves a hole and couldn't get out of it."
The result was a 56-47 win for the Trailblazers.
The Cardinals (4-7) (2-3) and the Trailblazers (6-6) found themselves battling a half-court game for the first quarter. Eudora junior Lauren Kracl, 16 points and 14 rebounds, scored the first field goal of the game with 5:14 in the first quarter.
Sophomore Kayla Moyer, two points, came off the bench and nailed a jumper from the baseline, keeping Eudora in the game.
Gardner harassed the Cardinals with an aggressive full-court press that resulted in 20 first half turnovers for Eudora. The Cards finished with 30 turnovers.
"We weren't doing anything in the first half," Kimberlin said. "We weren't letting people know who they had on defense when subs came in. It was tough to get offensive opportunities."
Freshman Michelle Deluna, team-high 17 points, five rebounds, and four steals, cut the Gardner advantage to seven, 19-12, with a textbook bounce pass to Kracl.
But then Gardner caught fire from the outside, out-scoring the Cards 12-5 for the rest of the quarter.
Deluna put up points in a hurry in the fourth quarter. After a Deluna three-pointer, junior guard Rachel Abel, one point, two steals, and an assist, stole the ball and Gardner's April Taylor was called for a flagrant foul.
Abel later injured her ankle in the fourth quarter and is questionable for Thursday's second-round game.
Sophomore Jodi Wingebach, four points, and seniors Tina Lauber, four points, and Mallorie Cleveland, three points, five rebounds, and two assists, added to the Eudora momentum.
"Tina played a good solid game," Kimberlin said. "She is one of the people who won't look to shoot but she can shoot."
Wingebach hit a jumper off a pass from Cleveland to pull within 10, 43-33. Wingebach also grabbed an important rebound so the Cards could hold for the final shot of the third quarter.
Kracl scored the first points of the fourth quarter with 5:34 in the game. She also drove the length of the floor, scoring with 2:45 remaining. Kracl cut the Gardner lead to seven, 50-43, from a Cleveland assist.
The Cards then played "the foul-and-hope-Gardner-misses game."
It worked for a while as Wingebach and Kracl scored baskets after Taylor and Gardner's Amanda Stewart went a combined two-for-four from the line. The Cards, who trailed by 14 at halftime, were down 52-47 with 53 seconds in the game.
The Cards waited too long to foul, and Gardner junior Jackie Habrock converted on an old-fashioned three-point play to seal the 56-47 victory.
Kimberlin said Kracl needed to be more dominant throughout the game.
"I would like to see her be aggressive for the entire game," Kimberlin said. "If she played like that for four quarters she'd be a dominant player. We're glad she's a team player but she's one of the main scorers on that floor."
Kracl said she was not pleased with the status quo and hoped to take over more games.
"Personally, I'm not pleased with myself yet," Kracl said. "I'm not as aggressive yet. I'm trying to get back in my rhythm."
Kracl enjoys playing with this team better than last year's group.
"We can handle the ball better, and everybody can score -- not just one person," Kracl said. "She (Deluna) is a very good passer. She sees the floor and she's a good all-around player."
The Cardinals and Trailblazers will meet again in their Frontier League season finale Feb. 28 in Eudora.
Kimberlin said the Cards would have a good chance to win that game if they play strong for four quarters.
"It's a very beatable team," Kimberlin said of Gardner. "We beat ourselves tonight. Not to take anything away from Gardner, their press beat the heck out of us."
For now, Kimberlin and the Cards are focusing on Anderson County (1-10). Eudora defeated the Bulldogs 39-35 in a Frontier League game Jan. 10 in Eudora.
The Cards, who were without Kracl that game, are not overconfident about the rematch at 6 p.m. Thursday.
"Anytime you play someone that you already beat they are going to come out hungry, especially if it's a team that's 1-9 (now 1-10)."
Kracl said the Cards need to focus on controlling the ball against the Bulldogs.
"We beat them once but we can't look at it that way," Kracl said. "We have to play up to our potential."
Eudora will face either host Wellsville (1-10), a team it defeated in December, or Kansas City Piper (3-7) Saturday.