Tonganoxie finishes third
Eudora trips Chieftains, wins tournament crown
The Tonganoxie Chieftains took third place at last week's 42nd annual Tonganoxie Invitational Basketball Tournament after winning two of three games to push their record to 4-7.
The team's one loss came at the hands of eventual champions, the Eudora Cardinals, who the Chieftains met on Friday after beating top-seeded Oskaloosa 55-46 on Monday.
Friday vs. Eudora
Eudora beat Tonganoxie, 42-49, on Friday night before advancing to Saturday night's championship game against Van Horn, which the Cardinals won 58-55 in overtime.
But the Cardinals had to battle to beat the Chieftains on Friday.
Going into the matchup minus senior point guard Kyle Rodell, who missed the game while helping Tonganoxie win the State Debate Championship, the Chieftains came out slow but so did Eudora.
"He's a senior and you always miss senior leadership," said Chieftain Coach Mike Webb. "But we're not going to use that as an excuse. We had several miscues I think we were out of sync. But we practiced all week without Kyle."
In the game's opening minutes, neither team could get anything going. Halfway through the first, the score was 4-3 Tonganoxie after a basket and a pair of free throws from all-tournament selection junior Bryan Gurss.
The remainder of the quarter was fairly even, and Tonganoxie was up 13-10 at the beginning of the second.
The Cardinals then outscored the Chieftains 16-9 in the period to go up 26-22 at the half.
The Cardinals came out of the locker room ready to play and scored two early quarter baskets to push their lead to eight. But Tonganoxie answered with two straight baskets from senior Scott Breuer, who was named the tournament's most inspirational player. The teams traded buckets for the rest of the quarter, and the Chieftains trailed Eudora 37-33 after three.
Increased defensive intensity marked the opening minutes of the quarter for Tonganoxie, which pulled even with Eudora half way through the quarter after six straight points from Breuer.
But the Chieftains went cold for the rest of the quarter and the Cardinals went on a 10-3 run to finish the game.
Breuer led the Chieftains with 21 points in the game. Gurss had eight.
"I told the kids after the game that we're playing for third instead of seventh and to keep their heads up and forget about the loss to get ready to play the next game," Webb said.
Saturday vs. Olathe Christian
The loss sent Tonganoxie to Saturday's third-place game against the Olathe Christian Warriors.
In that game, the Chieftains used unselfish team play to beat the Warriors 51-43.
The Chieftains distributed the ball well throughout the game, and three players finished with double-figure scores.
Gurss led the team with 14, senior Matt Needham was right behind him with 13. Scott Breuer scored 12 points and went 4-4 from the field.
But things didn't start so well for the Chieftains in this game either.
The Warriors controlled the opening tip and, five seconds into the game, drilled a three-pointer.
Olathe Christian then held Tonganoxie scoreless on its first four possessions.
During that time, the Warriors canned another three-pointer, and they had a 6-0 lead when, on the Chieftains' fourth possession, Breuer was fouled on a put-back attempt.
He made both of his foul shots, and back-to-back baskets by Gurss and junior Greg Burnett tied the score at six halfway through the quarter.
The rest of the half played out just as evenly, with both teams scoring 12 points in the first quarter and 10 points in the second.
The Chieftains came out after the break like a team possessed, ripping off 10 straight points in the quarter's first two minutes.
During that run, in the span of a few seconds, Needham scored four points when he made a basket inside, was fouled, missed the foul shot, grabbed the board and scored again.
"At halftime, I challenged the kids to get together and get motivated," Webb said. "I gave them five minutes to talk without the coaches. I put it on their shoulders, and they made the adjustments."
Webb said he never asked what they talked about.
But whatever it was, the team responded and carried the momentum from that first opening burst through to the end of the game.
Tonganoxie outscored Olathe Christian 29-21 in the second half to win the game and to take third place in the tournament.
Throughout the games, Tonganoxie fans rooted for the team.
"Our fans are so good, we feel like we let them down when we lose," Webb said. "It's such a great feeling to look up at the fans applauding our efforts."
The team's next game is 7:30 p.m. tomorrow on the home court versus Perry-Lecompton.