Eudora follows disappointing season opener with dramatic victory vs. Turner
It didn't happen overnight. It didn't happen over the course of a game or during a stern halftime lecture. The Eudora boys basketball team found itself between the first and second quarter of Tuesday's game, and after a dismal four quarters the day before, and an equally forgettable start to the next game, the Cardinals turned it all around and won their first game of the season.
Eudora trailed early and by a large amount in the consolation bracket of the Paola Invitational tournament, but rallied to beat Kansas City-Turner, 51-50.
"That's a good way to get a win," Eudora senior Todd Roberts said. "It's going to take us a while to find our roles on this team, but once we get it settled, we'll be alright."
The Cardinals lost their first game of the season in ugly fashion, falling 61-37 against Kansas City-Piper, and they appeared to be on track for an 0-2 record as they started their second game.
Eudora didn't score a point for nearly four minutes to start the game, and trailed 16-8 after one quarter. They were behind 28-15 at one point in the second, but rallied to take a late lead in the fourth quarter, then break open a 50-50 tie when Matthew Abel made one of two free throws with three seconds remaining.
Roberts led Eudora with 17 points and Kelson Boyer added 14, but it wasn't anyone's point totals that impressed Card coach Kyle Deterding.
Rather it was a down-and-dirty work ethic that made the difference, he said. It was non existent Monday against the highly touted Piper Pirates, but it was inspiring Tuesday against Turner, especially after the first quarter.
"I saw more guys dive on one play than I did the whole game against Piper," Deterding said. "We had some people step up and it was contagious. That's how I like to play and I had fun and I hope the kids did too."
The effort, combined with a little bit of concentration made the difference. It was ugly in Tuesday's first quarter. Eudora had six turnovers, then began the second by immediately backcourting the ball, making it seven turnovers on the game before two seconds had even ticked off in the second period.
But slowly the Cardinals made up the difference. Turner scored five baskets in the first two quarters with easy layups, but Roberts and Justin Ballock each drew charges early in the second quarter that began to slow the Golden Bears and Roberts, Kelson Boyer and Abel made five-of-six free throws going in to halftime to pull Eudora within 10.
They cut into the gap even more early in the second. Mike Ortega scored to open the second half and Roberts drained a 3-pointer.
Eudora was within nine after Roberts helped wipe a Turner bucket off the scoreboard by taking his second charge of the game, and Kent Swanson put the gap to five when he connected from 3-point range as time expired in the third quarter.
"Brian White really got us going on the defensive end. He was flying all over the place," Roberts said. "When we got it down to 10, I thought we could catch them, and when we got it to five, I knew we would.
"We weren't playing very well in the first half, but we were missing some easy shots. We finally had some go our way there in the end."
A pair of Travis Croom treys slowed Eudora's comeback, but a stifling Cardinal defense allowed only two points in the final four minutes of the game.
Ortega scored and was fouled to cut the gap to three, and free throws from Roberts and Boyer finally knotted the score at 48, the first time since the game began.
Roberts scored again, this time on a fast break, to give Eudora a lead, but Turner broke a three-minute drought with a tying basket with 32.7 seconds remaining, setting up Abel's pressure-packed free throws.
Eudora brought the ball down court and Abel wasted most of the clock dribbling around the top of the key. Finally he plunged into the lane and drew a foul, sinking his second shot to give Eudora the game.
"I don't get to shoot it, but if there's anyone up there shooting it, I'd want Matthew," Deterding said. "We have a lot of kids that haven't played very many minutes, but they're getting better. Still, it'll be a battle all year."
The win put Eudora in the Paola tournament's fifth-place game, set for 5:30 p.m. Friday against Bishop Ward.