Boys set for title tilt in home tournament
Two games, two wins.
It's how the Cardinal boys basketball team's scorecard looks after the first two rounds of the Eudora Invitational tournament.
The Cardinals opened up the 2005-2006 season with a 47-43 win Monday in round one over the Pirates of Belton, Mo. Tuesday they delivered an encore performance with a 59-49 win over rival Baldwin in round two.
Despite the fact that it's only the start of the season and two games merely constitutes a modest winning streak the excitement among the ranks couldn't be higher.
"It feels great," senior Rodney Spillman said. "This is the first time since I've been here that varsity has started 2-0."
Spillman may be vying for an early season tournament most valuable player award with back-to-back double digit scoring performances.
The senior led the Cardinals with 15 on Monday, while leading all scorers with 23 against Baldwin.
In that game Eudora used a sound inside game and tight defense to run out to an early 6-0 lead on the Bulldogs before Aaron Hannon hit a 3-pointer to get Baldwin on the board.
Senior Guy Montgomery and junior Todd Roberts each put in four points on offensive rebounds and mid-range jumpers to help Eudora to a 15-10 first-quarter edge.
In the second quarter it was juniors Tim DeArmond and Mike Ortega who added even more substance to the Cardinal inside game with a combined 11 points that stretched a five-point lead to an 11-point halftime cushion, 30-19.
But Baldwin wasn't going away quietly.
To open the second half, the Bulldogs ripped off six straight points to cut the gap to five and begin a tight stretch for both teams.
The outside shooting of Hannon and junior Andrew Madl kept the Bulldogs in the game and got them as close as 41-38 with less than a minute to go in the third quarter.
That would be as close as Baldwin would get as the Cardinals finished off the quarter with a 5-0 run capped off by an inbound lay-up from Mark Abel to Spillman at the buzzer.
The Cardinals slowed down the game in the fourth and took advantage of key fouls by the Bulldogs to stretch the lead as the quarter went on.
Montgomery was solid for Eudora down the stretch, by hitting 6-of-7 free throws to help put the game away.
The 59-49 win saw Spillman score 17 of his 23 in the second half, but the senior knew that the Bulldogs would come out and fight.
"We stepped up our defense," Spillman said. "And we knew they could shoot their way back into the game so we couldn't allow them any opportunities and luckily a lot of their shots didn't fall."
To set up Tuesday's Baldwin match-up, the Cardinals withstood the Belton Pirates of Missouri, 47-43.
Spillman and DeArmond each scored in double figures as Eudora used a 16-point second quarter to forge a 23-17 lead.
But the smooth shooting of Belton's Brandon Miner, who led all scorers with 16, helped the Pirates to a 5-0 run to open the half, while Adam Jursch's bucket tied the game at 28.
A seesaw game ensued in the fourth quarter until Eudora managed to scrape together a 43-38 lead.
Belton's Miner gave the Pirates one last gasp with a three-pointer to cut the lead down to two, 43-41.
The Cardinals put the game away by going 4-for-5 from the line and grabbing some big rebounds when it mattered to seal the tough win.
"We knew they were going to make a run," head coach Kyle Deterding said. "We played decent defense and got some rebounds when we had to. You have to get some bodies under the boards and block out because they're not always going to call it."
With the two wins, the Cardinals move on to Friday's championship game of the Eudora Invitational against Piper.
The Pirates defeated K.C. Turner and Bishop Ward by a combined 59 points to earn their spot in the title game.