Boys prove to be kings of the Hill
Eudora's boys basketball team (8-9) ran the full spectrum of emotions this week.
The fact that the week began on Friday the 13th should have sounded an alarm. But by Monday the only thing alarming was the team's two losses.
Eudora's first loss was to its top rival that Friday in Baldwin -- the Bulldogs rode a huge third quarter to a 68-59 win. The Cards' rebound-game Monday resulted in a demoralizing 66-43 loss to Osawatomie.
In order to avoid three losses in five days, the Cardinals would have to upset Spring Hill (12-5), arguably the best 4A team on Eudora's schedule, the following night.
And they did. Eudora's dominant first-half effort was enough to sustain a critical 59-53 victory.
"That's a big win for us," said head coach Scott Stein. "We've been struggling here lately, and Spring Hill's a quality opponent, and it was a league game. It's just a huge win."
How bad did the Cardinals need this win? They had lost three games in a row and eight of ten. The two wins in that stretch were by a total of five points.
And perhaps most importantly, Eudora needed to bounce back after a difficult Osawatomie loss.
"We needed it real bad," said senior starter Josh Lauer. "(The Osawatomie loss) was a slap in the face, but if we would have lost this one it would have been more like a punch."
The Cardinals took control of the contest with a 20-9 first quarter. Eudora's two starting big men, Chris Gabriel and Jesse Montgomery, combined for 11 points in the opening frame. The Cards transition game provided much of the additional damage.
Eudora stretched the lead to 13 early in the second quarter at 24-11. But the Broncos responded with a small 7-2 run, pulling back to within eight at 26-18.
Lauer answered the run with a rally-killing three pointer. The Cardinals regained momentum and led 36-22 at the break. Spring Hill hit Eudora with another 7-2 run ending the third quarter, and cutting its deficit to 48-41.
The Cardinals hit just enough big shots in the period to hold off any larger Bronco runs. The same held true in the fourth quarter, except those shots were from the free-throw line. Eudora scored all 11 of its fourth-quarter points from the charity stripe.
Lauer went five-for five from the line himself. He finished with 10 points on the night. Point guard Tyler Cleveland led the team with 11. Gabriel, Montgomery and Jeremie Bryant added nine apiece in the very balanced attack.
"We really did a pretty good job tonight," Stein said. "I thought we got a little sloppy at the end with our passes, but aside from that we were able to survive and get it done. I thought we were as good tonight as we were bad last night."
That's a powerful statement based on Stein's views of the previous night's match-up with Osawatomie.
"It was a long 24 hours," he said. "A real long 24 hours."
The Osawatomie game began promising enough for the Cardinals. Eudora led 11-9 after the first quarter. Eudora then shot just 27 percent in the final three quarters and was out-scored by 25.
The team's shooting woes were not to blame, though, according to the team's head coach.to understand by now that we don't shoot the ball well -- that isn't it at all. Tonight it was effort. I saw no effort.
"That was pathetic basketball -- there's no other way to put it."
Bryant provided the lightest of bright spots with his 13-point performance.
On the other hand, Gabriel, the team's leading scorer, delivered just four points in the loss. The senior's two-for-seven night was especially disappointing on the heels of his career day in Baldwin City. Against the Bulldogs, Gabriel posted 25 points on 12-of-17 shooting. Gabriel and the Cardinals led at the half 33-31.
But Baldwin sprung from the third-quarter gates, gaining control with a 12-5 run, a lead they would never relinquish.
Sophomore Mark Abel provided some drama, delivering the biggest shot of his young career. His three-pointer with just less than a minute to play pulled the Cards to within one at 60-59. But a series of Cardinal miscues and Bulldog free throw shooting allowed Baldwin to escape with a 68-59 win.
The loss undermined Eudora's stout effort in the home of its most heated rival. Eudora has three games remaining in the regular season, beginning Friday with Paola. The Cards then are the host of neighboring De Soto on senior night Tuesday. Eudora wraps up on the road Feb. 26 at Gardner.
"The heck with the shooting, I'm disappointed with the intensity that we played with," Stein said. "We ought