Cards fall short of state
Boys lose to Spring Hill in sub-state finals
Eudora played its way into the championship game of the 4A Sub-state in Spring Hill with a 50-44 win over rival Baldwin and then seeing its dreams of a trip to Hutchinson vanish at the hands of Spring Hill senior center Richard Hannah.
Eudora lost to the tournament host 66-40 Saturday night. The fourth-seeded Broncos (11-11) -- defending state runner-ups -- upset top-seeded Mill Valley (16-4) in its semi-final match-up. The Cardinals' second loss to Spring Hill gave the team a 15-7 record for the year.
"(The Broncos) have improved significantly, and when it's in their house, that's obviously a good situation for them," said Eudora head coach Scott Stein.
The loss was a disappointing end to a successful season.
"I think we greatly exceeded the expectations of most people, but it's disappointing to get this far and not get to go on," Stein said.
Spring Hill's 6-foot-5 star center Hannah scored a game-high 25 points.
In the previous meeting between the two Frontier League foes, Hannah scored a game-high 24 points, outscoring Eudora by himself 14-12 at halftime.
Eudora followed that prior first-half performance scoring 13 points in the first half of the championship game.
"That's a point improvement, I guess we're growing," Stein said. "Offensively, I have no answers. We're just not very good offensively."
Hannah established himself early when he scored his team's first six points, giving Spring Hill an early 6-4 lead.
His counterpart, Eudora's senior sharpshooter Kaleb Niedens struggled, scoring only three points in the half with a long three-pointer pulling Eudora within seven at 20-13.
Spring Hill junior Matt Myer responded with a three of his own, sparking an 11-3 Bronco run and establishing a 31-16 advantage.
Showing some grit, Eudora made a third-quarter run.
The Cardinals went down low to junior Chris Gabriel, drawing the defense in and setting up the kick-out pass to Niedens for a three.
On the following possession, senior Tyler Jackson hit junior Tyler Cleveland for another three. Eudora then forced a Spring Hill turnover, and Niedens launched another three-point attempt. This time the ball rimmed out, but Gabriel was there for the put-back, and the Cardinals were back to within seven at 31-24.
The Eudora faithful instantly came alive, and just as quickly were subdued as Hannah collected an offensive rebound and layup. Eudora never got as close as seven points again.
The Cardinals scored seven more points in the third quarter than they did in the entire first half and outscored the Broncos 20-19.
Despite Eudora's modest third-quarter success, Hannah and the Broncos were just too much.
"Spring Hill's just an aggressive team," Stein said. "You have to be ready for their aggressiveness. We couldn't get anything going; their aggressiveness really bothered us."
Spring Hill consistently lobbed the ball down low to Hannah, who routinely scored easy layups.
"We didn't help very well on the backside on the lob and we didn't do a very good job of getting in position," Stein said.
Niedens, as he did in the teams' Feb. 18 meeting, scored seven points in the final quarter.
Hannah, however, answered Niedens' seven points finishing with 17 in the half.
Spring Hill juniors Myer, Kevin Phillips, and Aaron Barnett provided solid scoring balance, collectively adding 34 points to the Bronco attack.
Niedens' last points as a Cardinal came on a long three-pointer with 1:35 to play.
At the 1:11 mark Stein put his five seniors on the court for the last time together.
"I really enjoyed this group," Stein said. "I'm real pleased with the progression these seniors made."
The five seniors concluded their careers with 21 of the teams 48 points.
Niedens had a team-high 13 points, David Grote finished with six, Jackson and Andrew Bell added one apiece, and Curtis Hickman was scoreless.
As for the class of 2004, Gabriel had 12, Tyler Cleveland had eight, Josh Brouhard added six, and Jesse Montgomery added one.
"We have some good kids coming back," Stein said. "We need to work on our offense. We're still not very good shooters in a lot of different positions. We need to work on our shooting."