Cards can’t back up Spillman’s big game
At the 1:54 mark of the fourth quarter, the Eudora Cardinals watched as their leading offensive threat walked to the bench with his fifth foul and the team down by one.
Rodney Spillman took with him to the bench 30 points and seven rebounds and as it turned out, he wouldn't come back in a Cardinal uniform.
The Cardinals couldn't rally late and ultimately fell to Bishop Ward, 57-50, in the first round of the Class 4A sub-state tournament Tuesday at Eudora High School.
Spillman's effort, which included 20 first half points, wasn't enough to save the Cardinals who committed three turnovers late in the game to let the Cyclones pull away with six straight points to polish off a then 51-50 game.
"He played his heart out," Eudora head coach Kyle Deterding said. "They all played hard. We just didn't make enough plays in the end."
Eudora (14-7) held its own in the early going as the teams traded baskets in the first quarter in a game the Cardinals weren't entirely comfortable playing.
"We didn't want to get in a H-O-R-S-E game -- you shoot, then I shoot," Spillman said. "They're unbelievable shooters, when they step into the building they've got the hot hand. But we wanted to get up and down the court, take good shots and get after it as much as we could. And we did a good job of that in the first half."
The Cardinals were able to match the Cyclone shooters with a more deliberate approach midway through the second quarter and even found themselves breaking a 22-22 tie with a 7-0 run at the end of the half to put some much needed distance themselves and Ward.
The approach continued to work for much of the third quarter, but the Cardinals found themselves struggling as time wound down.
Leading 38-33 Eudora watched as Ward's deep shooters hit two 3-pointers late in the quarter, including Chris Wing's shot which gave the Cyclones the lead for good, 40-38.
"Those guards are so talented," Deterding said. "You really have to go out there and try and contain them. They have about two or three guys out there that have range and can put it on the floor."
The Cyclone's lead had the Cardinals playing catch up from that point on as Eudora found itself down by as many as five on several occasions throughout the quarter.
Eudora made one last stab with less than a minute to go as senior Mark Abel drained his second 3-pointer to cut the margin to one.
But fouls sent the Cyclones to the line where they finished off the game with four straight free throws. Bishop Ward hit 10-of-14 foul shots in the second half while the Cardinals went 0-for-1.
Along with Spillman and Mark Abel, the loss closed out the Cardinal basketball careers of Luke Abel, Nolan Smith, Guy Montgomery, Chanze Johnson and Tim Moran.
"It was a good year. The seniors had a great year," Deterding said. "They stepped up and played. We put in a lot of things in new from last year and they really worked hard. I think they'd have taken 14 wins before the season started. It just didn't end on the one we wanted it to. I was really proud of them."