Archive for Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dogs bark too late, Cardinals wrap up victory

December 20, 2007

Mama said there'd be days like this. Actually, it was an evening, but it was still rough-going for the Eudora Cardinals girls basketball team Tuesday night when they met Anderson County High in Garnett.

The good news for Eudora is it managed a 34-27 victory on a night when the shots weren't falling and things weren't going the way it wanted them to.

"I don't think we played our best," coach Ryan Luke said. "But it's a good game to learn from."

Emily Ballock led the team in scoring with 10 points, making four clutch free throws at the end to ice the game. Haley Epperson and Kendal Abel each added five. Nikki Snider led in rebounding with seven.

The game got off to a slow start, to say the least. With 2:30 left in the first quarter, the two teams were knotted at 2-2. Despite shooting 4-15 from the floor, the Cardinals escaped the first quarter leading 9-2.

"Sometimes you get on the road and you don't know how you're going to shoot," Luke said. "It was a good example of us not shooting our best but it's a good game to learn from."

The Cardinals remained cold in the second quarter as well, only attempting five shots and connecting on two of them for four points. Turnovers were part of the problem as they had five in the second quarter alone, but the main issue was a zone defense that Eudora had not seen so far this season.

Oftentimes, the offense would pass the ball around the perimeter for 30 to 45 seconds looking for a shot and not being able to find one.

"We hadn't faced a zone yet and I didn't know how our team would respond," Luke said. "We don't understand where we need to be at and what we're looking for all the time."

One saving grace for the Cardinals was their own zone press, which had the Bulldogs turning the ball over with equal frequency.

"We've thrown in a few wrinkles, a man run-and-jump and then we throw in some zone and it keeps teams off balance a little bit," Luke said. "That's how we stayed in tonight's game."

The defensive dual took the teams into halftime with Eudora leading 13-8.

The third quarter went better offensively for both teams and concluded with Eudora up 28-18.

In the fourth quarter it got interesting, with Eudora leading by five for most of the period before Anderson County cut the lead to three, 30-27, with 26 seconds to play.

Eudora forced the Bulldogs to foul and stop the clock. They picked the wrong girl, however, as Ballock stepped to the charity stripe and nailed both ends of a one-and-one.

On the following possession, Bailey Scott got a steal and gave it up to Ballock, who was again fouled and nailed both free throws to end it.

"She's the girl we want the other team fouling," Luke said. "She will not allow her team to lose. She's just one of those kids."

Ballock sported a taped wrist after jamming her wrist at Friday's Prairie View game when she chased a loose ball out of bounds and ran into the courtside stage.

"I didn't think she was going to play tonight, but she's a tough kid," Luke said. "I thought she could have gotten some more shots, but I don't think she was totally confident shooting the ball with her wrist the way it was. But those free throws at the end - huge."

The girls handled Prairie View without a problem on Friday, handing them a 71-20 loss. Nikki Snider led all scorers with 20 points in the contest, and Haley Epperson added 12 for Eudora.

Luke said after winning so easily on Friday he was a little worried that the girls would come into Tuesday's contest overlooking the 0-4 Bulldogs, but his worries quickly vanished.

"I was worried a little bit, but I thought when we came out we looked good, ready to play," he said. "We just didn't see some things in the zone that we needed to see. But, we go into the break at 4-1 and I'm pretty pleased with that."

The girls team will now be off until Jan. 4, when they face Baldwin at home.

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