Boys enter tourney on hot streak
Three league victories give team confidence in home tournament this week
Familiarity doesn't breed contempt for Friday night's semifinal matchup between Tonganoxie and Eudora.
The teams met in the semifinal game of the DeSoto tournament in December with Eudora prevailing.
The rematch comes after Tonganoxie and Eudora won Monday in the first round of the Tonganoxie Invitational Basketball Tournament. Both teams survived sluggish first halves to advance.
"Are we looking forward to a rematch?" said Mike Webb, Tonganoxie basketball coach. "Of course."
But, emphasized Webb, the Chieftains will have to play better outside defense on Eudora's shooters and be less tentative on offense.
Chad Eshbaugh, Eudora basketball coach, scouted the Tonganoxie vs. Hogan game without a stated preference for a Friday-night opponent.
"Either one is going to be tough," Eshbaugh said after his team won the first game Monday night against Lansing in overtime.
The Chieftains Monday-night win was their fourth consecutive victory. They scored 28 points in the fourth quarter one more than they scored in the previous three quarters.
Both teams began the game cautiously, feeling out an unfamiliar opponent. Hogan switched between a 2-3 zone and man-to-man defenses for much of the game. Tonganoxie relied on man-to-man and 1-3-1 zone defenses.
The first quarter score was 8-8, and neither team looked comfortable on offense.
The teams traded baskets and the lead for much of the second quarter which ended in a 19-19 tie.
Hogan led by eight points after the third quarter, 35-27, in part because of three point baskets by Tyrone Henderson, Mark Tolbert and James Smith.
At one point in the third quarter, Scott Breuer missed four consecutive free throws. Despite hitting only 1-6 foul shots for the night, Breuer led the Chieftains in scoring with 15.
Included in that total were important fourth quarter points.
The Chieftains began the final period with a flurry of energy. Aligo scored two quick points under the basket, and Rodell hit a three point shot from the wing.
Terrence Helms scored a basket for the Rams, but Breuer answered, grabbing a pass that deflected off the hands of at least one defender and laying it in.
Thomas Gilner scored two, and Aligo added another two points. The Chieftains led 38-37 with 4:46 left to play.
Hogan coach Steve Stitzer called a timeout with the home crowd rocking and his team on its heels.
Henderson and Cedric Patterson quieted the Tonganoxie crowd momentarily with successive layins, but Hogan's 41-38 lead was short-lived.
The Rams didn't scored in the final four minutes, and Tonganoxie finished the game on a 17-0 run.
"I think we wore them down," said Webb.
Webb played 10 players in the first half, substituting five at one point in the second quarter.
He cited Becker's late-game defense, Rodell's fourth-quarter contributions, and Neil Rieger and Breuer for their intensity on offense.
"We just kept pushing and pushing and pushing," Webb said.
That seems to be the story of the revitalized Chieftains who have looked uninspiring before pulling out wins.
Friday against DeSoto, Tonganoxie won despite being forced out of its game plan by the visitors.
The Chieftains led 14-9 after the first quarter and by as many as 10 in the second quarter. But DeSoto used a stifling 2-3 zone to slow the tempo and closed the gap, tying the game at 29 just before the half.
"That's a very well coached team," Webb said after the game. "They just took us right out of our game.
Tonganoxie looked stale in the third quarter. The Chieftains trailed 40-41 at the end of the period. Rodell hit two free throws 13 seconds into the fourth quarter. Rieger blocked a layup and then scored two of his own.
The Chieftains never trailed again, although DeSoto refused to go away, trailing by only three with 1:14 left in the game.
Once again, the Chieftains didn't shoot well from the line, hitting 5-9 free throws in the final minute and a half, but it proved enough to seal the win.
Including a win against Perry-Lecompton Jan. 11, the Chieftains are now 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the Kaw Valley League.