After a month of wins that improved its record to 7-3, the Eudora girls basketball team is sticking with its trend of improved play.
After a successful 62-51 showing Jan. 11 against Spring Hill, the Cardinals made waves in the first round of the Tonganoxie Invitational tournament, beating Atchison 56-52 Monday night.
Coach Ryan Luke said he has seen a tremendous amount of growth in all of his players and was pleased with the team's progress and improving record.
"We've improved a lot and have a young bunch," Luke said. "It's been amazing with the effort they've put out. We've had girls step up that weren't really doing that at the beginning of the year. It's exciting to see this."
Eudora started the game right with a Bailey Scott basket from in front of the net thanks to a pass from Allison Braden. That was just the start of a solid eight-point streak, creating an immediate point gap between the two teams.
Atchison did not appear on the scoreboard until three minutes, 40 seconds remained in the first quarter, sinking a three-point shot. Luke said the Cardinals' defensive game put the Lady Reds under a lot of stress.
"We really rely a lot on our ball pressure and our press," Luke said.
Braden also helped the team by using her obvious size advantage on the court. At 5-foot-11, she was able to rebound the bulk of Atchison's missed shots. Braden helped Eudora maintain possession of the ball throughout the first quarter.
After finishing the first quarter ahead by three points, Eudora slacked off defensively in the second. The Lady Reds took the 22-19 lead after the Cardinals failed to stick with their opponents and gave them too many wide-open shots, which resulted in a nine-point streak.
Coming out of the halftime break, the Cardinals turned on the pressure again by quickly amassing another eight-point streak and reclaimed the lead. But Atchison stuck close to Eudora, just trailing by just three or four points in the third quarter.
Sophomore Haley Epperson stepped up in the second half and distinguished herself as being an invaluable asset to the team, leading with 22 of Eudora's 56 points.
Eudora again lost the lead to Atchison at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but after a blink of an eye, the team was back on top. After a series of five traded shots, the Cardinals took it home.
Luke said Atchison gave his team all the workout it wanted.
"(Atchison) has improved a lot," Luke said. "Their post players did really well against us. They're going to be a really strong team by the end of the year."
Now, the Cardinals are gearing up for the semi-final round of the competitive Tonganoxie Invitational tournament. Hoping to continue its winning trend, Eudora is scheduled to play Lansing at 3 p.m. Friday at Tonganoxie High School.
Luke said his team was ready for the challenge.
"It's going to be a tough challenge for us," Luke said. "They've got some pretty good point guards. But I think we can do well."