Cyclones seal Eudora’s sub-state fate
The Eudora Cardinals girls basketball team clutched victory from the jaws of defeat Thursday in an amazing 48-42 come-from-behind triumph over Tonganoxie (16-5).
But those jaws returned with vengeance Saturday, as the Cards (16-6) matched-up with Bishop Ward (16-6) for the sub-state championship in Lansing.
Eudora watched in disbelief as Ward scored five points in the game's final 28 seconds, stealing a 52-50 victory and the Cardinals' ticket to the state tournament.
"It's one thing if you go into those 16 seconds down by five," head coach Cara Kimberlin said. "But we went into those 16 seconds up by three, and the girls that were on the floor were so high.
They knew they had it, and in 16 seconds your emotions have gone from totally high to as low as it can get for an athlete. They're going to take it bad either way, but the emotional swing that just occurred is enough to kill you."
Cyclone senior Ashley Foster collected an offensive rebound and a put-back, cutting the Cardinal lead to one at 46-45 with one minute and 14 seconds remaining in the contest.
A few seconds later Eudora junior Kayla Moyer was fouled, sending her to the line for the front-end of a one-and-one. Moyer sunk the first.
Her second was off the mark, but the Cards' star senior Lauren Kracl corralled the offensive board and nailed the short jumper in the lane. Eudora's lead was four at 49-45 with less than a minute to play.
Foster answered with a strong two under the basket, making it a single possession game.
Eudora freshman Erin Kracl subsequently forced an inbound pass to big sister Lauren, which was picked off by a Cyclone defender.
But Cardinal senior Rachel Abel seemed to save the day, forcing Ward to turn the ball back over to Eudora.
Sophomore Carrie Lister was fouled on the play, sending her to the charity stripe for a one-and-one of her own with 29 seconds remaining.
Lister, who had missed four consecutive from the line, drilled the front-end before missing the second.
Lauren Kracl was called for a foul attempting to grab her second-straight offensive rebound.
Ward took over down three with 28 seconds to play.
Cyclone senior Debbie Dumovich hoisted a potential game-tying three-point attempt with 13 seconds on the clock. The ball improbably stuck between the backboard and the back iron. The result was a jump ball possession to Ward.
The inbound play found Dumovich open at the top of the key for a second chance at the tie, and she made good on the opportunity with a net-ripping trey.
The game was tied at 50-50 with seven seconds left for the Cardinals.
Inexplicably, though, Lauren Kracl threw an ill-advised inbound pass that was deflected off Lister and out-of-bounds.
Ward was given an impossible opportunity to win the game with two seconds on the clock and the ball under its own basket.
The inbound play was to 5-foot-11 senior Beth Baughman, the Cylones tallest player. Baughman took a step, turned around, and delivered the mid-range baseline jumper at the buzzer.
Ward erupted with cheers, Eudora with tears.
"I will probably be thinking about those final eight seconds until next November," Kimberlin said.
Eudora's four seniors will surely think about them long after that.
"Those girls did what I asked them to do, which was to play their butts off for 32 minutes," Kimberlin said. "They're upset. They had it in their minds they were going to state."
Of course they did. This team looked like a perfect fit for Cinderella's slipper.
Their head coach was even wondering if it was just meant to be following the Cards sensational win over Tonganoxie.
"Maybe destiny's on our side this year to come back from something like that," she said.
An 11-point comeback at that.
Midway through the second half, Eudora led Tongie 21-14. The Cardinals were playing well and in complete control.
But without warning, the Cards' lead disappeared amidst a 12-0 Chieftain run, closing the half. At the break Tonganoxie led 26-21.
The run extended a minute into the third quarter as Tongie stretched its lead to 29-21, and then 37-26, a 23-5 run during a nearly 10-minute stretch.
Lauren Kracl picked up her fourth foul in the half's opening minute and sat until the 7:43 mark of the fourth quarter.
When she returned, it was Eudora's turn to make a run. Kracl and company executed a 13-1 run, regaining the lead 39-38.
The run extended to 22-5 as the Cards closed out the game and the Chieftains 48-42.
"When we got down everybody knew this could be our last game if we didn't pick it up," Moyer said. "So we really came together as a team, started picking away at (Tongie's) lead, and then everything started rolling from there."