Atchison breaks Eudora’s streak
Eudora High entered Saturday's Tonganoxie Invitational against Atchison without two of its leaders.
And the Cardinals left Phil Lobb Gymnasium minus a third consecutive title.
With senior point guard Tyler Cleveland and senior wing Kaleb Niedens out because of illness, a shorthanded Eudora team kept with Atchison into the second quarter, but the Redmen used a mix of defenses -- including a smothering press -- and sent the No. 2 Cardinals to a 64-40 loss.
"We played pretty well and then made two critical mistakes at the end of the half and it was boom, boom," Eudora coach Scott Stein said.
Atchison (7-5) caused two turnovers just before halftime and converted on the Cardinal miscues. That gave the No. 5 Redmen a 35-17 lead at the break after a 9-0 run started the second quarter.
Eudora had an 8-2 run in the third, but Atchison cruised in the fourth for the tournament title.
"I'm glad we were here and played some teams in our class," Atchison coach George Ross Jr. said.
The past two seasons, Atchison played in the Dodge City Tournament of Champions against teams in Class 6A and 5A.
In Tonganoxie, the Redmen played 3A Oskaloosa and fellow 4A programs Lansing and Eudora. Atchison lost to Lansing in the Atchison Preseason Tournament before defeating the Lions on Thursday. The two teams could meet again in their substate tournament.
Against Eudora, Atchison shot at nearly 51 percent (27-for-53), while the Cardinals (7-4) struggled with a 33 percent outing (15-for-48).
Chris Gabriel led Eudora with 11 points and made the all-tournament team, as did Niedens and Cleveland.
Shayne Tyler led Atchison with 15, while invitational MVP Jeff Bowldridge had nine.
In the third-place game, Lansing and Tonganoxie pushed each other into overtime again before Lansing came away with the win, 57-49. Lansing (8-2) also beat the Chieftains (4-7) in overtime, 74-72, on Jan. 10 in Tonganoxie.
Eudora 68, Tonganoxie 44
On Thursday, Kaleb Niedens picked up where he left off Monday in the Tonganoxie Invitational semifinals.
The Eudora senior hit a three in the quarterfinals, pushing his team into the semifinals against Tonganoxie. After sinking his team's first three against the Chieftains, he found the groove again.
Niedens canned six three-point shots against the Chieftains on Thursday, helping him to a 29-point effort and sending Eudora to the Tonganoxie Invitational finals for the third consecutive year.
The Cardinals won, 68-44.
"That's the first time I've been on with the three-pointer," said Niedens, who also scored 32 in an overtime loss to Anderson County on Jan. 10.
Niedens hit Eudora's first two field goals -- both threes -- and had another to break a 13-13 tie in the first quarter. Niedens then scored four in the second, 11 in the third and two in the fourth. The output came after the Cardinals (8-3) barely beat a patient Pleasant Ridge team, 46-45, after handling the Rams by 33 in the season opener.
With two days of lively practices, Niedens knew the Cardinals were ready for their semifinal game against the host school.
"During that last game their fans were talking a lot of trash," Niedens said, referring to the Tonganoxie student section during Monday's game.
On Thursday, the Cardinals let a 16-3 second-quarter advantage do most of their talking on a night when Eudora was connecting. The Cardinals were 54 percent from the field (22-for-41), including 7-for-13 from three-point range. The Cards also made 17 of 26 free throws.
"It's just one of those nights we played well," Eudora coach Scott Stein said. "That's probably the most entire ball game we've played."
Tonganoxie, meanwhile, endured a semifinal loss to Eudora for the second consecutive year.
"You've got to tip your hats off to them," Chieftain coach David Walker said. "Good grief.
"We didn't execute as well, but they were clicking. We started taking quick shots and contested shots."
Tonganoxie (4-6) shot 44 percent from the field (17-for-39) and made just 7 of 15 free throws.