Resolute in the new year: EHS girls open ‘07 with convincing victories
The Eudora girls basketball team did not show any signs of regression as a result of the winter break.
After starting the season 0-2, the Cardinals won three of four before the winter break, and opened 2007 with two more wins, upping their record to 5-3. Eudora beat De Soto 52-40 Friday in its first game back, then easily handled Central Heights 60-38 Monday.
"We just played a solid game," Eudora coach Ryan Luke said. "Our transition offensive game went well and we played great defense -- a solid game."
The Central Heights game was also a success. Central Heights got on the board first, scoring a basket one minute into the game, but that was the Vikings' high water mark. Emily Ballock stole a ball 20 seconds later and relayed it to Haley Epperson. Epperson scored to put Eudora on the board, and it was smooth sailing after that. The Cardinals reeled off an astonishing 17 straight points and held a 17-2 lead after one quarter.
Luke said it all came down to confidence -- something he'd been trying to instill in his young team since practice started in the fall.
"With such a young team, with more and more experience, things are going to get better," Luke said. "Our confidence emerged in the two games. They're just working hard. Our effort has been outstanding at practice."
Central Heights continued its drought well into the second quarter, not scoring its second basket of the game until the five minutes, 38 seconds mark -- nearly nine minutes after the Vikings took a quick 2-0 lead.
Rachel Pyle didn't allow that basket to turn into any sort of surge either, replying with a 3-point shot.
After the halftime break, though, things slowed down a bit for Eudora as the Cardinals gave up eight points to Central Heights rather quickly.
Luke said the team just momentarily lost sight of its goals.
"We lost focus and intensity, but we shot the ball pretty well," he said. "We lacked effort on the defensive end. Central Heights came out and played well."
After a somewhat disappointing start to the second half, Elaina Kouri stepped up with three minutes remaining in the third quarter and sank in a shot. Seconds later the junior guard snatched the ball from Central Heights right in front of the Viking net. She raced to the other end of the court and added another two points to the Eudora score. She finished with 10 points, more evidence of what Luke said has been a critical source of points early in the season.
"We have a lot of younger guards that have been stepping up," Luke said. "They gained some confidence, which is exciting to see. They've been scoring pretty well the past two games."
Overall, Luke said he was proud of how the girls had been playing and practicing after the break. He said one thing the team needed to work on was putting the two halves together and not losing any energy from one half to the next.
Epperson said the team's inability to play consistently between the two halves was Eudora's biggest problem.
"After we come out with a good first half, we need to come and play as well in the second," Epperson said. "It's definitely on our shoulders that we need to come out with a big intensity level."
The Cardinals are set to play Spring Hill at 8 p.m. Thursday in Eudora, then travel next week for the Tonganoxie Invitational Tournament, which kicks off Monday.
Luke said the team was looking forward to the tournament because of the challenge it will no doubt present.
"We're anxious to see some different teams," Luke said. "We're pretty excited for that challenge and to see how we do. Tonganoxie is the No. 1 team in the state, so they're going to be tough."