Girls earn a split in season’s first two games
New year's came early for the Eudora girls basketball team and new head coach Ryan Luke Monday as the Lady Cards started off the infant basketball season with 49-39 first round win over Highland Park Topeka at the Paola Invitational Tournament. Eudora lost its second game of the tournament, falling to Baldwin Tuesday, 45-42.
"I think it was a good win," head coach Ryan Luke said of the first win. "They hadn't played over time and they were getting used to each other and to me, so I think it was a good win."
Getting used to each other got under way quickly for Eudora with a 6-2 lead within the first minutes, but Park came back with a physical game down low to even things out as the first quarter moved on.
"They were very physical," Luke said. "They were rough up front and I think to come away with a win from that is a positive."
The Lady Scots' physical play and a Nicole Sullivan three-pointer helped put the Cardinals down 9-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Eudora answered in the second quarter, outscoring Park 14-11 with the help of strong inside play from senior Carrie Lister and sophomore Nikki Snider.
Lister knocked in eight of her team high 15 points in the first half, while Snider hit two key lay-ups to break ties as the quarter wound down.
Sophomore Emily Ballock added four points with short range jumpers to help give the Cardinals a slim two point lead at intermission.
From then on, however, Eudora made things difficult for Highland Park and its physical brand of play.
The Cardinals used an 8-0 run to start the second half which stretched a 22-20 halftime lead to 30-20 before the Lady Scots could get on the board at the 2:52 mark.
The run was part of an 18-7 third quarter that put Highland Park on its heels, forcing a game of catch-up down the stretch.
Senior Michelle Deluna threw in six of her ten points in the third quarter to push the Cardinal lead to 40-27 at the end of third.
"We just reversed the ball and took care of the ball," Luke said. "We looked for easy shots, weren't trying to force it and our post players worked well together."
Even with things working well for the Cardinals however, Highland Park didn't shy away from the challenge of coming back, as the Lady Scots turned took a page from the Cardinal play book as the fourth quarter got underway.
Park's Sullivan, who finished with a game high 16 points, and Whitney Swiercinsky teamed up to put a scare into the Cardinals with a 9-0 run, closing the Cardinal lead to 40-36.
But Eudora, starting a new season, used some old habits to keep Park at arm's length down the stretch, toughness and some timely connections at the free throw line helped decide the matter.
"I thought we gutted it out when we had to," Luke said. "we moved the ball and took what they gave us."
At the line Lister and Deluna took advantage of Park's desperation fouls to increase a tight five-point game to a ten-point margin at 47-37. Sophomore Haley Epperson added the two more to cap off the Eudora scoring.
"We came back at the last minute or so to go and did a good job at the line," Luke said. "Carrie (Lister) hit a few key free throws at the end, she does a good job with that because he stays after practice and shoots free throws. So we did a good job with and that comes from experience."