Girls parade Panther win
Coach calls Paola victory ‘biggest win’
The Eudora Cardinals girls basketball team (13-5) faced the unenviable task of three games in five days, including road games at Baldwin and Paola.
Eudora began with a gutsy but disappointing 53-41 loss Friday to Baldwin. The Cardinals responded with an uninspired effort Monday at home against Osawatomie. Eudora managed to hold on for a 47-41 victory. They finished the stretch with a sensational 70-61 win at Paola.
"It's probably the biggest win of the year for us," said head coach Cara Kimberlin. "And as upset and disappointed as I was against Osawatomie last night, I love them all again tonight."
Her team secured the significant win with a superlative 25-of-30 effort from the free-throw line. The free throw exhibition included a sensational 15-of-19 in the fourth quarter.
Despite playing their second game in as many days, the Cards used a rotation consisting primarily of just six players. Starting guard Michelle Deluna suffered an elbow injury Monday requiring some of the rotation restriction.
Senior Lauren Kracl and Deluna's replacement, Kayla Moyer, played virtually the entire game.
"They played their tails off and showed us tremendous heart," Kimberlin said.
The win over Osawatomie, however unimpressive, was significant.
Eudora had lost three of its previous four games, beginning and ending with losses to Baldwin.
The first Baldwin loss was followed with a lackadaisical loss to Silver Lake. After three quarters, the Osawatomie game appeared destined for a similar result.
Eudora blew a 22-16 halftime lead and trailed 31-28 early in the fourth.
But a drive by Carrie Lister and a pair of free throws by Erin Kracl returned the lead for good to the Cardinals with six minutes and 36 seconds remaining.
"All that game was was a win," Lauren Kracl said. "We didn't play well at all. It was sloppy, and we didn't play like us. But again, a win's a win."
Interestingly, the six-point margin of victory marked the first Eudora game this season decided by single digits. Lauren Kracl ended the night with 18 points. Moyer added 14.
"I knew I'd have to step it up to replace (Deluna)," Moyer said. "She's a good scorer, and we need points from the guards. I just tried to get in what I could."
Moyer tried to take advantage of her window of opportunity, and likewise Eudora tried to take advantage of a window of opportunity Friday against Baldwin.
In the past, Baldwin has presented a mismatch for Eudora. But this season the Cardinals believed they had more than a legitimate shot at winning -- they expected to win.
But alas, the Bulldogs once again escaped with a victory. The three-point line and the free-throw line proved to be the end for the Cardinals.Eudora led 34-33 late in the third when Baldwin senior Anna Gillispie broke the Cardinals backs. Gillispie connected on back-to-back threes, giving Baldwin a 39-34 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"That boosted their adrenaline," Lauren Kracl said. "Those two threes got them going and started their run, and that's when we started playing worse."
Lauren Kracl scored with a little turnaround in the lane, pulling the Cards back to within three. But another Bulldog trey -- this time from Kari Garrison -- pushed the deficit back to six.
Baldwin finished on the free-throw line. The Bulldogs were 22-of-30 from the line on the day, half of which came in the fourth quarter.
"I kind of knew going into Baldwin that if we were down going into the fourth quarter we were in trouble," Kimberlin said. "Because (Baldwin's) so disciplined, they were going to pull it out and pass it around, and they don't miss free throws."
The Bulldogs shot just 26 percent from the field on the day but three treys, 22 free throws and 20 Cardinal turnovers were enough to keep the series dominance in tact.
Eudora's disappointment is in many ways greater this year despite the competitive nature of the two Baldwin losses.
"We were glad we didn't get blown out this year, and we're a much better team this year," Lauren Kracl said. "But we weren't satisfied -- that wasn't good enough for us."
Lauren Kracl finished with 18 against the Bulldogs. Deluna chipped in eight. Jodi Wingebach and Lister each added six, and Moyer had three.
On deck for the Cards is a Tuesday tipoff at home with 16-1 neighbor De Soto, a team they may face again in sub-state play at Lansing.
"They're a good team," Kimberlin said. "They are playing well and have got a taste of winning. It's a big game."
It's an especially big game for four Cardinals celebrating senior night. Eudora wraps up the regular season Feb. 26 at Gardner.