Eudora ends Beavers run of state basketball titles
By BRETT MARSHALL
By BRETT MARSHALL
PARK CITY — All good things come to an end.
Or so they say.
In the case of the Scott City Beavers boys' basketball team, the three-year reign in Class 3A basketball came to a halt on the floor of Hartman Arena in the first Class 4A-Division II state championship game played, as Eudora captured its first state title in school history with a 71-58 victory on Saturday night.
But the Beavers weren't going to go down without a fight.
And they certainly made the Cardinals, with brothers Andrew and Mitchell Ballock leading the way, sweat it out until the closing two minutes.
In a battle of heavyweights, Eudora held an 18-14 lead after the first quarter and the game was still close with just over five minutes left in the half when Scott City junior guard Brett Meyer was whistled for his third foul.
He went to the bench and from there the Cardinals went on a 16-6 run to close out the half on top 36-23.
But that wasn't the end of the deep hole the Beavers would dig for themselves.
At the 6:02 mark, they found themselves looking at an 18-point deficit and trying to figure out how to make this look respectable.
Well, they did more than that.
As any defending champion would do, the Beavers came back battling. When Eudora coach Kyle Deterding was whistled for a technical foul at the 5:45 mark, the Beavers seemingly found new life.
They scored eight straight points to cut it to nine, 45-35, at the 4:57 mark. Then, they followed that with a 13-5 blitz to pull within two at 50-48 to end the third.
"It made all the difference to have Brett (Meyer) in the lineup," said junior guard Trey O'Neil of the second-half rally. "Credit him. He's the reason we got back in the game. I didn't play well at all. I take the blame for it."
After a two-point performance and the foul troubles in the first half, Meyer, a 6-3 junior, exploded for 20 second-half points, giving him a game-high 22.
"Brett's our second half of our guard tandem, and when you take half of that away, it's going to affect how you play," said Beavers' head coach Glenn O'Neil. "I thought Eudora came out and played more relaxed than we did at first. We looked like a team that had players who hadn't been here before, and that's what this team is comprised of. We're young, and we're going to have a great bunch back next year. We accomplished so much this year. I'm proud of our seniors. They were a big reason we got to the championship game."
O'Neil, who had lit up both Pratt and Concordia, struggled to get his 15 points, going 4 for 15 from the field, 0 for 6 from 3-point land, and did make 7 of 8 free throws. Eudora's length and hounding defense made it tough for O'Neil to get good looks. O'Neil did lead the Beavers with eight rebounds and nine assists.
"Eudora's long, experienced and they have a lot of weapons," coach O'Neil said.
The early fourth quarter had the feel of Friday night's drama-filled Scott City-Concordia overtime thriller.
The Beavers cut it to one, 52-51 when Meyer drained a deep three with 6:22 left. It was 55-53 with 5:51 to play and then it seemed as though the Beavers ran out of gas.
Eudora scored six straight points before Meyer interrupted with another 3-pointer, making it 61-56 with 4:20 remaining. The Cardinals, though, did what good teams do and they were able to make big plays and get to the free throw line as they drained the clock in the final three minutes.
A 10-0 runout put the game on ice, and the Cardinals were celebrating their first taste of a state championship.
For the Beavers, it was a memorable run following three straight state titles that had begun in 2011 when Ron Baker, now one of the stars of No. 2-ranked Wichita State, made a running outback to beat Minneapolis, 55-53, to win the first of their three 3A state crowns. The group of Drew Kite, Brett O'Neil and Joey Meyer and that cast then added two more in dominating fashion.
The Beavers had to re-stock with four new starters and they were able to finish 21-4 in what many thought would be a major rebuilding year.
"I like the group we have coming back," said a somber Trey O'Neil. "We fought out there, and we'll be back. Scott City basketball hasn't, and won't, go away."
For Eudora, the Ballock brothers were the big guns, with Missouri Southern-bound senior Andrew scoring 19 and his freshman brother Mitchell leading the way with 20. But sophomore Austin Downing chipped in with 14 and senior Zachary Scroggin contributed 11, and it was that supporting cast that made the difference.
The Cardinals finish the season with a 20-5 record.
Both teams shot well, with the Cardinals a blistering 61.9 percent (26 of 42) while the Beavers were right at 50 percent (20 of 40). Turnovers plagued the Beavers as they were guilty of 17 miscues to 11 for the Cardinals. Scott City did win the rebounding battle, 23-18, as O'Neil grabbed eight. The Ballock brothers grabbed six each.
The Beavers were trying to replicate the accomplishment of four consecutive state titles by Kansas City-Wyandotte (1967-70), Wichita South (1978-81), Moundrige (1990-93) and Wichita Heights (2009-12).
In the girls' championship game, Santa Fe Trail rallied from an eight-point third-quarter deficit to force overtime and then held off Frontenac for a 58-54 triumph.
Shelby Dahl scored 19 points to pace the Lady Chargers and Megan Zaldivar added 16 for the winners while Bailey Flora's 18 points led the Lady Raiders. Ryleigh McCartney added 16 and Natalie Coomes 10. SFT ends its season at 22-3 as does Frontenac.
In the boys' third-place game, Andale held off a late rally by Concordia to claim a 72-66 victory. In its loss, Concordia's brother tandem of Grant and Cooper Holmes, who combined for 57 points in the overtime loss to Scott City on Friday night, once again led the way with 27 and 26 points, respectively.
In the girls consolation contest, Holton used a 22-11 final half to win going away 50-33 over Burlington, a team that had won the Class 3A state title in 2013.
Kyrstie Miller and Hayley Thompson, two players who helped defeat Hugoton's girls on Wednesday's opening day, paced Holton with 20 and 15 points, respectively. Madison Stadel scored 13 points for Burlington, which was playing without standout guard Breanna Bluma, who tore her ACL in last week's sub-state. Bluma reportedly is headed to Emporia State.
Scott City 14 9 25 10 — 58
Eudora 18 18 14 21 — 71
Scott City (21-4) — Strine 3-3 2-2 8, Pounds 0-0 0-0 0, O'Neil 4-15 7-8 15, Meyer 8-11 3-5 22, Baker 2-7 1-2 5, Yager 0-1 0-0 0, Hutchins 3-3 0-0 8. Totals 20-40 13-17 58.
Eudora (20-5) — Shockley 2-4 0-0 5, A. Ballock 9-15 0-0 19, Downing 4-6 6-7 14, M. Ballock 8-13 2-4 20, Scroggin 3-4 5-6 11, Byrne 0-0 2-2 2, Elston 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 26-42 15-21 71.
3-point goals—Scott City 5-14 (O'Neil 0-6, Meyer 3-5, Yager 0-1, Hutchins 2-2), Eudora 4-8 (Shockley 1-1, A. Ballock 1-3, Downing 0-1, M. Ballock 2-3). Rebounds—Scott City 23 (O'Neil 8), Eudora 18 (A. Ballock, M. Ballock 6 each). Turnovers—Scott City 17, Eudora 11. Assists—Scott City 12 (O'Neil 9), Eudora 11 (A. Ballock, M. Ballock 4 each). Fouls—Scott City 19, Eudora 18. Fouled out—none. Technical fouls—Eudora bench.