Upset bid falls short in 46-36 loss to SJA
For stretches against No. 1 seed St. James, the Eudora High girls played like they were the No. 1 seed.
The No. 8 seed Cardinals stayed with the Thunder almost basket-for-basket well into the second half. Eudora ran its offense effectively and its pressure defense created a host of SJA turnovers during the first three quarters.
But with the Thunder up eight midway through the fourth quarter, St. James connected on a three-point dagger that put the lead at 11, and the Thunder held on for a 46-36 victory in the first-round of sub-state Monday at St. James.
“I thought it was a very solid effort,” coach Todd Cossman said. “I thought our seniors came in and played their hearts out. This was their final game. It’s not the way anybody wants to see their season end. But I’m just really proud of the girls, and how they came and fought the whole game and made a game of it against the No. 1 seed.”
In their final game of the year, the Cardinals played perhaps their best game. Having also played St. James tough a couple weeks ago, the Cardinals attacked the basket off the Thunder’s full-court press the whole first quarter, and Victoria Lehmann scored on a layup and Hannah Kouri drew a foul and hit two free throws early.
The Cardinals were down one at the end of the first quarter, but tied it up at 11 early in the second, and later tied the score again at 16 on a layup by Evan Folks.
St. James, though, took a 20-16 lead into the locker room.
And while St. James increased its lead to nine at the end of the third, and led by double digits early in the fourth, the Cardinals fought back and rallied, as Folks and Lehmann slashed through the paint for layups that cut the deficit to eight. Then St. James’ Maggie Kolich swished a contested three-pointer from the left wing that put the Cardinals down 11 with 4:40 to play.
“She just drilled it,” Cossman said. “We closed out on her, and had a hand in her face, and she just drilled it. That was a big-time shot. That’s why they’re the No. 1 seed.”
But the Cardinals wouldn’t give in, as freshman Valerie Pringle hit two free throws, and Folks scored five straight points, cutting the deficit to six at 39-33 with 1:16 to play.
But St. James made 7-of-10 free throws to seal the victory.
“They have nothing to hang their heads at all,” Cossman said. “They came and they fought. We really competed hard and the girls should be proud of themselves.”
The loss ended the careers of seniors Kouri, Folks, Katie Slavin, Sydney Schmille, Molly Brunton and Shea Lounsbury.
“None of us really had a lot of experience going into it,” Lounsbury said of this year’s team. “We had a few people coming back from the varsity team, and we made a bunch of improvement. And the classes coming up are just phenomenal, and they are going to be great “
Folks led Eudora with 14 points, Lehmann added six and Lounsbury three. Those points came via a three-pointer from the top of the key late in the fourth. It also was the first and only three-pointer of her career.
But that shot signified how the Cardinals battled until the end. Eudora finished the season 5-16. But coming off a rebuilding year from last year when the team went to state, the team made big strides this year. And that has Cossman excited about the future.
“We’re going to bring some people who have varsity experience back,” Cossman said. “It’s a tough way to end the season, but we’ll be ready to go into next year.”