Archive for Thursday, January 31, 2008

Girls notch two more

Cardinals blow up Sumner, go to overtime to edge Paola

January 31, 2008

An explosion in the third quarter propelled the Eudora girls basketball team past the Sumner Academy Sabres Monday, allowing the team to coast to a 79-35 blowout victory.

Already leading by 20 to start the second half, the Cardinals went on a 22-2 run in which senior Nikki Snider scored 12 of her game-high 21 points, most of which came off uncontested transition layups.

"We did a good job going to the boards and getting it out, running the floor," coach Ryan Luke said. "Our depth helps us, being able to play at that pace for all 32 minutes. Our athleticism and conditioning really showed. I was extremely pleased."

The Cardinals led the whole way as junior Haley Epperson won the tip and got fouled on the offensive end. She made one of the free throws to go up 1-0 and it was as close as Sumner came.

Snider and fellow senior Emily Ballock each had six in the first quarter as Eudora built a 17-6 lead.

The Cards added to that lead in the second, this time it would be Ballock and Epperson leading the way, scoring eight and seven, respectively.

Eudora led 35-18 with 30 seconds left in the half holding the ball to ensure the last possession. What followed was a set play that Luke likes to run right before halftime, with junior sharpshooter Bailey Scott running off a double screen and getting an open look behind the three-point arc in the corner.

As she has done throughout the year, Scott canned the shot and put Eudora up by 20.

"She seems to hit that shot fairly consistently," Luke said. "She's hit that shot about five or six times this year, and it just gives us a lot of momentum before half.

"That shot took the wind out of their sails, honestly."

The patience and control exhibited on those last-chance possessions is an encouraging sign, Luke said.

"It's something we've struggled with in the past, giving the ball back to the other team with eight or 10 seconds left," Luke said. "If they hit a shot, that's a six-point swing. Now I'm seeing a lot of maturity and just understanding the game, which is exciting."

The momentum from that play certainly carried over into the second half Monday, with Eudora winning the following quarter 24-8 thanks in large part to the big run right out of the gate. Eudora extended the lead to 60-21 before Sumner managed a free throw and two inside baskets.

It all amounted to enough to allow Luke to sit his starters with about six minutes remaining.

Relying solely on subs, Eudora expanded the lead, something else Luke saw as a promising sign.

"It's nice to know that when you call on them, need them, they're ready to step up," he said. "Amanda Schneider played really good, just hustled and made some scrappy plays."

Another thing the coach was happy to see was a tough mental approach after escaping Paola Friday night with a four-point overtime victory.

Eudora defeated Paola earlier in the year, 62-43, but found itself knotted at 51-51 Friday at the end of regulation.

"Knowing that we kind of handled Paola the first time, we came in not necessarily prepared," Luke said. "We were expecting to do a little better than we did and then got into a close situation.

"But we responded in overtime."

Ballock sank four free throws at the end of overtime to put the dagger in the Panthers, while Epperson had a season-high 29 points.

"In every situation where we needed a bucket, she came through," Luke said of Epperson, the team's leading scorer on the season.

Judging by the Cardinals' performance Monday, that four-point victory over Paola served as a wakeup call for the team, Luke said. He said the team talked afterwards about the importance of understanding that you have to be ready to play every game regardless of the opponent. Especially when playing a team you've faced before, that opponent is going to know how to prepare better the second, or even third, time around - as could be the case in possible sub-state matchups against Baldwin, De Soto or Spring Hill.

"It kind of woke us up a little bit," Luke said. "When we get ready to play, we're usually pretty good."

Eudora next will travel to a 7:30 p.m. Friday game at Louisburg. The Wildcats are a big team that Luke expects to use its physicality to pound the ball inside.

"They're a tough team," Luke said. "They'll put some full court pressure on you but they don't want to push the ball a whole lot. That's one thing we can do is push the ball."

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