Cardinals bounce back from road loss with win
Eudora squared off against visiting Gardner-Edgerton on senior night Feb. 27. The Cardinals, coming off a heartbreaking 59-55 double-overtime loss at De Soto, rebounded with an overwhelming 56-36 thumping of the Trailblazers.
"This was by far the best overall game we've played this year," Eudora head coach Cara Kimberlin stated.
It was this season the second time the Cardinals have responded positively from a hard loss. Eudora followed a complete debacle against Baldwin on Valentine's Day with a character building 42-36 victory at Paola. The Eudora victory over Gardner-Edgerton can be credited to an inspired defensive effort.
The Cardinal defense held the Trailblazers to just nine first-half points. Eudora held a 21-9 advantage at the break.
"I was ecstatic about (our man-to-man defense)," Kimberlin said. "Our defense took them out of the game."
In addition to their defensive prowess the Cardinals were very careful with the basketball, turning the ball over only four times in the half.
"When you turn the ball over just four times it means they can only score eight points off of turnovers," Kimberlin said.
At halftime the coach stressed the imperative nature of not surrendering their defensive intensity.
"I wanted them to get a feel for finishing a team off, " Kimberlin said.
Eudora maintained its composure and defensive discipline allowing Gardner-Edgerton to get no closer than 14 points. The Cardinals coupled 60 percent shooting with their continued defensive labors and 'finished off' the Trailblazers 35-27 in the second half.
The loss to De Soto provided a level of motivation but this was, after all, senior night. Eudora's seniors, Mallorie Cleveland, Mary Johnson and Tina Lauber wrapped up their home careers with a win.
"Tina has been unhappy with her senior season, but she always plays hard and plays pretty solid (defense)," Kimberlin said. "Whether it's a televised game, a game against Baldwin, or senior night, Mallorie likes the big game."
Cleveland was five-of-seven from the field for 11 points on her big night.
Regarding to Johnson, Kimberlin added, "Mary plays good defense and grabs rebounds. (Mary) is very important to us. We may not win at Paola if she doesn't come in and hit some big shots."
It's not often that a freshman makes noise on a night reserved for honoring the senior class. Then again, it's not often that a freshman has the skills of guard Michelle Deluna. Enjoying a standout freshman season, Deluna broke out of a recent slump with 16 points at De Soto.
The momentum from that game translated into an excellent eight points, six assists effort against Gardner-Edgerton.
"It's nice to see her do that, utilizing her passing abilities," Kimberlin said. "She did a good job of getting the ball to Lauren (Kracl) and Mallorie."
The seniors aren't done yet -- Eudora (6-13) is the No. 7 seed in the 4A sub-state tournament. They now possess the unenviable task of tackling No. 2 seed and tournament host Spring Hill (17-2).
"We have nothing to lose, no one expects us to beat them," Kimberlin said. "We played zone both times we played them, we're going to go (player-to-player) this time...we'll see what happens."
The Cardinals appear to be playing some of their best basketball at the right time. A few breaks in the De Soto game and Eudora would be riding a three-game winning streak into sub-state. Look no further for the key to the Cardinals recent success than the play of junior star Lauren Kracl.
Kracl has scored an average of 24 points in the Cardinals last three games. Included in this run was Kracl's stellar performance against Gardner-Edgerton in which she scored 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting and collected 16 rebounds.
Wrapping up the scoring against Gardner-Edgerton, Kracl had 26 points, Cleveland with 11, Deluna finished with eight, Lauber added four, sophomore Kayla Moyer had three and junior Rachel Abel and sophomore Alissa Hamilton had two points apiece.
"This was just a little spark of what we can do and what we can do in the future," Kimberlin said.