Cardinals hope win over Dogs brings momentum
In one of the most physical games of the year, the Eudora Cardinals outlasted the Anderson County Bulldogs on the road Friday night, 45-42, to improve to 5-1 on the season and 2-0 in the Frontier League.
The two teams went to the free throw line 35-times on the night as each tried to outmuscle the other down low.
"We basically tried to get (Josh Sutton) and (Jeremy Sutton) into foul trouble," senior Rodney Spillman said. "But we also knew we were going to have to go down and answer their shots down low to stay with them."
The effort told the head coach exactly what kind of team he had on his hands.
"I know we've got some scrappy guys," Eudora coach Kyle Deterding said. "But we come to play and I know that our guys don't like to lose. We're going to get after people."
The opening pace of the game belied the low final score as each team wanted to run, but each squad found clogged lanes and tight perimeter coverage.
Senior Mark Abel got the Cardinals on the board first with a left side 3-pointer, while sophomore Matthew Abel took advantage of one of the few inside opportunities presented by the Bulldogs for a quick two points.
But the brothers Sutton countered for the Bulldogs in nearly identical fashion with a 3-pointer and an inside bucket.
The Cardinals soon found their own stroke from beyond the arc drying up as they went on to miss their next four attempts. The long distance drought forced Eudora to go inside for some hard-fought baskets.
Both teams traded baskets until the end of the first quarter, where the Cardinals managed to hold on for a 12-9 lead.
The second quarter saw the defensive intensity ratcheted up a notch as both teams struggled to get shots.
The Bulldogs were allowed only three shots from the field, while the Cardinals got away only two shots until late in the period. Eudora again tried to attack Anderson County from beyond the arc, but were unable to connect, going 1-for-10 for the entire half.
Eudora held off the Bulldogs for a slim 16-15 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Cardinals began to loosen up the Bulldogs' inside defense with some timely connections from downtown.
Senior Luke Abel and Matthew Abel combined for three 3-pointers to help the Cardinals to an eight-point lead with less than five minutes to go in the third.
Spillman was also able to find some room, getting four of his team-high 13 points during the period.
Eudora used the outside shooting and inside game to score 18 points in the quarter, forging a 34-27 lead at the end of three.
The Cardinals held off the Bulldogs, despite a furious attempt by Josh Sutton on the inside to cut the Eudora lead to as few as three with less than a minute to go.
But Spillman and the rest of the Cardinals went 3-for-5 from the line in the final minute to seal the victory and propel Eudora to a 5-1 start.
The physical aspect of the game completed a cycle in which the Cardinals have been able to play virtually every type of game thrown at them, Spillman said. And with Friday's win, the confidence going through the Cardinal locker room was pretty high.
"We feel like we can play with anybody," Spillman said. "Especially the way we're playing right now. And now with guys like that (Luke Abel and Nolan Smith) back we have more people to rotate in and out and that gives us a chance to win."
The team also played Wednesday in a rescheduled game with Prairie View, but results were unavailable at press time.