Cards just short to start ‘06
Clutch shot, free throws allow Panthers to pull away late
Paola's Amilee Gross waited the entire game to score her first points, but her timing couldn't have been worse for the Eudora Cardinals.
Gross' shot with 49.9 seconds left sealed the Cardinals fate by extending the Panther lead to six en route to a 53-45 win at Eudora High School Tuesday night.
The game was a fast-paced -- if not sloppy -- affair that saw each team commit 20 turnovers in a flurry of activity.
"We like to push the pace and so do they," Eudora coach Ryan Luke said. "But I'm not sure we wanted to get into that kind of game with them. I think we slowed it down pretty well at times, but they hit some big shots down the stretch."
The Cardinals took advantage of the pace in the early parts of the first quarter by jumping out to an 8-3 lead. But the turnovers (eight in the first quarter) caught up with Eudora as the quarter wore on, allowing the Panthers to creep back into the game and take a 10-9 lead at the end of the period.
Armed with a one-point lead, the Panthers turned to their junior scoring machine Brittney Miller on the inside to help Paola carve a 24-19 halftime lead. Miller scored eight of her game-high 20 points in the second half.
The Cardinals tried to answer on the inside, but senior Carrie Lister was smothered most of the night by Panther Jessica Logan. Lister scored the Cardinals opening basket, but went scoreless until midway through the third quarter.
"We want to get the ball to Carrie," Luke said. "But our guards have got to help out with that match-up. They've got to commit and help draw them out to give us a chance."
Eudora had trouble driving through the lane for most of the night as the chances at the line were few and far between. By the end of the third quarter the Cardinals had gone to the line only twice.
But the trouble inside opened up room on the perimeter as senior point guard Michelle Deluna helped keep the Cardinals within striking distance with 15 points from the mid-range.
The Panthers, however, had no problem driving the ball as freshman Rachel Hanf scored eight of her 14 points on slicing drives to the basket. This helped the Panthers extend a tenuous four-point lead to a more comfortable 38-31 advantage as the third quarter ended.
The Cardinals made a fast and furious run in the final frame to carve away the seven-point lead down to three with less than three minutes to go.
Junior Erin Kracl, who finished with 13 points, hit a short-range jumper to make the score 48-45.
The teams traded turnovers as time wound down before Gross' 3-pointer all but ended the Cardinal threat.
The disappointing defeat dropped the Cardinals to 2-3 on the year, but even in the loss, there were some positives for the head coach to take away.
"I think we really had a great effort tonight," Luke said. "That's something that we've struggled with and I think we played with intensity on the floor, and that's a step for us."