Turnaround has Cards on win streak
Boys win fourth in row to cap successful week
A mere two weeks ago, the Eudora Cardinal boys basketball team had hit bottom. The team had just received the beating of the season in a 40-point loss at Sumner Academy and watched its losing streak grow to a dreary nine games.
What a difference a few weeks have made.
Since then Eudora has beaten three league opponents in five days, including Ottawa and Wellsville.
"After Sumner it was bad," coach Scott Stein said. "Now we've come together, we're energized and we're playing well."
Tuesday night the Cardinals defeated league rival Central Heights 38-22 in a sluggish game to extend their winning streak to four games.
Eudora (6-11) found itself in a fight early during the first quarter as Central Heights' Craig Pearson drained two 3-pointers. The Cardinals had an answer, as juniors Rodney Spillman and Guy Montgomery helped put the Cardinals up 10-6 at the end of the quarter. Montgomery hit two consecutive baseline buckets, putting Eudora ahead on his way to a perfect four-for-four night from the floor.
"Guy really played a great game tonight," Stein said. "He hit all of his shots and rebounded well."
The game slowed down considerably in the second quarter as both teams sought to control the ball. Both teams managed just seven points in the quarter as Eudora kept the Vikings at arms length to lead 17-13 at halftime. Senior Jeremie Bryant scored four in the quarter, while Joe Kaup came off the bench to rip down six rebounds in four minutes.
"We didn't play as well as we could have then," Stein said. "But we executed well and made some good decisions."
The Cardinals had a bit of a scare midway through the second quarter as junior point guard Mark Abel was hit in the eye by the Vikings' Tony Wilson on an inbound pass. Abel went to the locker room and returned with a bandage around his head.
"He's got a bit of a gash over his eye," Stein said. "He'll need stitches, but we don't expect it to be anything other than that."
The Cardinals turned up the defense for the second half as they held the visitors scoreless for four minutes of the third quarter. Eudora slowly extended its lead with the slow down ball control approach. Junior Luke Abel threw in five points in the quarter, helping the Cardinals to a 28-19 lead as the third quarter ended.
The fourth quarter saw the Cardinal defense clamp down for keeps as the Vikings managed just three points, while the Cardinals answered with 10.
"We had hoped to extend the lead to double figures," Stein said. "We felt that if we could do that, then we could run out some clock. Fortunately we executed, and they weren't hitting their shots."
Luke Abel finished the game with eight points, while Joe Kaup grabbed 10 rebounds.
On Monday the Cardinals dispatched Wellsville with a 62-45 Frontier League win. It was Eudora's third win in a row.
Eudora continued to do something that had been difficult for it to do during the losing streak -- play with a lead and keep it.
"It's so much easier to play with a lead than to try and come from behind all the time," Stein said. "It allowed us to maintain our game plan."
The Cardinals kept the Eagles at bay in the first half with good shooting and sound defense to go into the locker room with a 28-23 halftime lead. Mark Abel and Joe Kaup combined for 17 of Eudora's first half points.
In the third quarter Eudora outscored Wellsville 15-7 to go up by 13 and put the game out of reach on its way to the 17-point win.
Mark Abel, Kaup and Jeremie Bryant all finished in double figures, with Abel leading all scorers with 21.
"We hoped not to have a let down after winning the two games last week," Stein said. "We made good decisions down the stretch and executed well."
The Cardinals stunned Ottawa Friday in the final seconds, earning an emotional 58-56 victory.
The game was close until the third quarter when the Cyclones outscored the Cardinals 19-9 in what looked like a repeat of the team's habit of falling apart.
Eudora bounced back in the fourth, however, to outscore Ottawa 17-8 including the game-winning shot from Mark Abel.
The Cyclones failed to foul on the final inbound pass, which allowed Jeremie Bryant to find Mark Abel all alone from beyond the arc. The shot found the bottom of the net, and the Cardinals found themselves with consecutive wins for the first time since early December.
"I didn't see anybody," Abel said. "So I was like 'all right I have to shoot."
The win gave Eudora some much-needed confidence after such a dismal stretch.
"It was a great win for us," Stein said. "We had some real frustrations. We'll see what it does, but hopefully it will give us a little momentum."
Kaup returned to the line-up for the first time in six games after suffering a hand injury during the Tonganoxie tournament. Kaup made his presence felt with 14 points, tying Abel for the team's top scoring honor.
Ottawa's Addison Miller outdid all scorers with 24.