Cardinals grab big win as Tongie frustrations grow
The girls basketball team bounced back from a tough Saturday loss to Tonganoxie, controlling a Monday game against Metro Academy for a 52-39 victory.
The win improved the team's record to 10-2.
"This is huge for us because, defensively we didn't play our best game (against Tonganoxie)," Eudora coach Ryan Luke said. "We came back and played our best defensive game of the year (Monday), and that is very encouraging and exciting for us."
Inside scoring led the way for the Cardinals against the Mavericks. Senior Nikki Snider scored a team-high 21 and junior Haley Epperson had 14.
Snider scored eight of her points in what would prove to be a decisive fourth quarter.
Eudora put the game out of reach in the final quarter by going on an 8-0 run at the start, and then taking a 20-point lead with four minutes to go.
The Cardinals held off a Taber Spani-led Maverick attempt to get back in the game. Spani, a Metro junior, finished with a game-high 28 points, 13 of which coming in the fourth quarter.
"We wanted to put pressure in her face to make her put the ball on the floor, then swarm her," Luke said. "We knew she was going to get her points, but we didn't want her to get 30 or 40."
Eudora had very little time to prepare for the game. Luke gave the team a day off Sunday to recuperate from the Tonganoxie game, then the team came in Monday morning for a walk-through and to go through the scouting report despite school being canceled because of Martin Luther King Jr. day.
"After the tough loss to Tonganoxie and that huge challenge that we had to come right back on Monday, to come back and step up to the plate," Luke said. "That's what good teams do."
After winning the opening tip, Epperson scored six points in the first quarter and staked Eudora to a 13-5 lead.
In the second, it was more of the same. Snider and Epperson combined to score eight points to extend the advantage to 10 points at halftime.
Little could derail the Cardinals at that point - not even a technical foul the team picked up for having six players on the court.
"That was my fault," Luke said. "I told a player to come off the court and somebody said we didn't have enough, so I sent her back out. I didn't count."
It wouldn't cost Eudora, as Spani made just one of her free throws. Eudora created a turnover immediately after the technical, and coasted down the floor for an easy lay-up to regain its 10-point edge.
One of the players who needed that rest was Epperson, whose task it was to guard Spani.
"I don't want to single out any one player, but Haley did a great job," Luke said. "The consistency as a team was there, though."
The Cardinals were happy to contain Spani, but the entire Eudora team's effectiveness was shown in what it did to the rest of the Mavericks. After Spani's 28, the team scored just 11 points.
The short turnaround between the tournament and Monday's game could be seen as good practice for the postseason for Eudora.
The team certainly learned how to bounce back from disappointment. Eudora lost to Tonganoxie for the second time this season, falling 51-37 in the Tonganoxie Invitational championship game.
Snider led the Cardinals in that one, too, with 16, but beyond her points it was slow going.
Snider scored the game's first basket, then the second, too, on an assist from Bailey Scott.
The Chieftains didn't wait long to get things going, however. Tongie rallied to claim a 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter, then stretched it to 28-22 by the end of the second.
Snider scored three quick baskets in the third quarter, but Eudora didn't score at all through the middle of the period and the Chieftains put the game out of reach.
Kendal Abel finished with six points while Epperson and Elaina Kouri each had five.
Eudora's only two losses this season came against Tongie. Still, the squad would like nothing more than to get one more crack at them.
"We'd be in the state tournament," Luke said of a possible rematch. "To play a team that we know we can compete with - that would be the ideal situation for us."
Eudora will next travel at 6 p.m. Friday to Paola, a team it beat earlier in the season, 62-43.