Time to fly
Girls knock of Bishop Ward to earn spot in sub-state semi-finals
Over the past season, the Eudora girls basketball team has shown that it knows how to win games. For example, Feb. 16 the Cardinals demolished Osawatomie 68-29. However, the team also has shown that its play can be inconsistent and generally devoid of energy, like a 56-32 loss Feb. 5 to Ottawa. So the type of team the Cardinals were going to be on the court Tuesday night against Bishop Ward was anyone's guess.
They sure answered that question, and in a big way.
Eudora won the first-round game of the sub-state tournament against the Bishop Ward Cyclones 55-48, which advances the team to the second round on Friday at Tonganoxie.
The Cardinals will play at 6 p.m. Friday against Baldwin.
Coach Ryan Luke said he was extremely proud of his team for overcoming its recent less-than-stellar showings.
"They really came through a lot since the Tonganoxie tournament (where the team went 1-2)," Luke said. "I think we learned a lot about our team and how to put things together when we need to. I'm proud of them because they just didn't want to give up. They never did."
Luke said the girls were just in it to have fun, and that attitude contributed to their win. Before the game even started, the team members were smiling and joking around with each other as they practiced their shots. They were genuinely excited to play.
That excitement transferred over to the game, as Haley Epperson made the first bucket, scoring from under the net after catching her own rebound. Then, it was Emily Ballock's turn, as she intercepted a Cyclone pass and posted another easy two.
Ballock went on to lead the team with 19 points. The Class 4A 300-meter hurdles champion came through in a big way just a day after practice for the new track season was supposed to begin. Using the same speed she used to capture gold on the track, she helped Eudora win. She said her ability to maneuver through the competition helped her become a frequent Cardinal passing target.
"They were getting the ball to me because I could get around them quickly," Ballock said. "I also was able to use my speed to get some fast layups."
The Cards played the second quarter nearly to perfection, going on a 16-point streak and not allowing the Cyclones any points for six-and-a-half minutes. Trailing 19-16 after the first quarter, the Cardinals burst into the lead and took a 32-27 score into halftime.
Eudora would never give up the lead again. Bishop Ward came close a time or two, and made some runs. The Cyclones came the closest in the fourth quarter, but Luke used his timeouts to keep his team calm.
"We told them to play to win," Luke said. "I told them to be aggressive and not slow themselves down. A couple of them took the team on their shoulders and really helped us. We've got some great individuals, but it was a team effort."
Epperson finished the game with 17 points and Elaina Kouri added seven.
Luke said the Cardinals demonstrated everything they had worked on during the season and after Tuesday night, there really was no question what type of team they can be when they play with aggression and excitement.
"We just became an aggressive team in general," Luke said. "We were confident. I thought we took advantage of most of the opportunities given to us."
Baldwin defeated St. James Academy 52-43 to set up the second matchup between the two team's this season. Eudora will be looking for revenge, in addition to a ticket to the sub-state finals, having lost Feb. 1 to the Bulldogs, 47-38.