Turnovers doom Eudora in sub-state semifinals, end Cards’ season
Throughout most of the season, the Eudora Cardinals thrived on the mistakes of their opposition.
First-year coach Ryan Luke's team averaged nearly 22 turnovers a game during the Frontier League schedule and on several occasions netted double-digits in the points-off-turnovers category.
On Thursday, however, it was the Cardinals' turn to pay for mistakes as the usually sure-handed squad committed a season-high 28 turnovers in Eudora's 69-40 season-ending loss to KC Sumner in the Class 4A sub-state semifinals.
"We turned it over and just didn't play very well," Luke said. "They (Sumner) are a pretty good team. They had the size and they were physical and there's not a whole lot to say other than that."
Eudora (16-6) had fallen 75-56 to the Sabres in an early-February meeting. In that game, the Cardinals committed only 13 turnovers.
This time around, the Cardinals' ouster from the postseason was authored by a stifling Sumner press, which produced 15 steals and 12 breakaway points, six by Sabre standout Marisah Henderson, who finished with a game-high 19 points.
Despite the expected point output from Henderson and the ball-handling woes, the problem with the Sabres' defense was of greater concern to the head coach than the turnovers it led to.
"I was disappointed in the way we reacted to the press," Luke said. "I thought we could've done a better job of that. We did well during the season with it. But I guess there's not much you can do about it now."
Perhaps none of the steals produced by the press was more damaging to the Cardinals' hopes of victory than the theft that ended the first quarter.
With the Cardinals trailing 17-10, the team had an opportunity to cut a quickly growing Sabre advantage to five with the last shot of the period. However, Sumner's Shannon White stepped in front of a Michelle Deluna pass and drove the length of floor for the bucket and the momentum.
From that point on, the Cardinals had no answers as the nine-point lead at the end of one quarter eventually ballooned to 22 by the end of the third.
When the Cardinals did manage to break the Sabre press, they found the basket an elusive target.
Eudora's scoring foursome of Deluna, Carrie Lister, Erin Kracl and Nikki Snider went a combined 6-for-25 from the field. Only Lister scored in double figures for the Cardinals, finishing with 15 points, 13 of which came from the free-throw line.
As disappointing as the lopsided loss was, it didn't seem to diminish the team's accomplishments over the past four months.
"We had a great first year," Luke said. "I don't think we can look at this game and summarize our season. The girls had a great time this year and we all had fun. We finished second in our league and 16-6 overall. We had a great bunch of seniors and I appreciated the effort that everyone gave out there."