Archive for Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Fly Route

December 7, 2006

The way they rallied, the way they played defense, the way they fought -- there are plenty of reasons to be encouraged by Eudora's come-from-behind victory in Tuesday's second round action at the Paola Invitational tournament.

But now two games into what will be at least a 20-game season, one things obvious. This group can play at both extremes, and I don't expect either to be defining as the season goes along.

Coming from a double-digit second-half deficit showed just how good this team can be. Even more encouraging was how they did it.

It wasn't exactly lucky breaks. The Cardinals stopped Turner from relentlessly cutting through the defense for easy layups by picking up back-to-back charges, a stretch that sent one of Turner's best to the sideline in foul trouble.

They made up for their bizarre inability of making baskets at short range by showing incredible determination in getting offensive rebounds.

They showed they are athletic enough to apply a grueling full-court press when the situation dictates, and disciplined enough to wait for a good shot when one big basket is more important than two or three half-hearted attempts.

There are some legitimate questions floating around this team as well. It's the same ones we all asked early in the football season -- how will they fill so many holes vacated by graduated seniors?

The answer so far appears to be poorly. Oh, they can, and they will. That's what high school kids do. But at this point, it's clearly experience that's lacking from this squad.

Coming back for a 51-50 victory over Turner was great, and it was an exciting game filled with highlights. But through most of the game, Eudora matched every jaw-dropping defensive play with a questionable pass, every acrobatic steal with a frustrating missed shot.

Had Eudora been able to play with just half the mistakes, the game is over in the third quarter.

Still, there's a lot to like about this team. Todd Roberts led the Cardinals with 17 points, and his most valuable contributions did come on the scoreboard -- just not the way one would expect.

He drew two charges by himself and went a long way toward slowing Turner's offense.

Brian White was equally impressive on the defense end, and Matthew Abel jumps so high and far to steal passes, it's a wonder how he doesn't hurt himself when he comes crashing back down.

Offensively, Roberts can obviously be a force. Tim DeArmond has plenty of experience and is quick enough to be dangerous down low and Kelson Boyer will turn out to be a nice surprise, especially as the season drags on.

Boyer was Eudora's only consistent threat early in Tuesday's win, and he played a huge part in keeping the Cardinals close enough to make a comeback even feasible.

The parts are there, and more importantly it's clear the heart is there.

Two games into the season and the reviews are mixed. It won't all be pretty over the next two months, but with that same intensity and poise and a little better decision making, these Cardinals should be just fine.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.