Ballock brothers end Beavers' title streak
By BRETT MARSHALL
PARK CITY — In trying to win their fourth straight boys state basketball championship, the Scott City Beavers had already survived one dynamic brother tandem in Concordia's Grant and Cooper Holmes in their Friday 77-75 semifinal overtime thriller.
But on Saturday, at Hartman Arena, the Beavers didn't have enough gas in the tank to survive another brother duo in Eudora's Mitchell and Andrew Ballock.
The result was a 71-58 Beaver setback that ended their string of three straight state titles — all in Class 3A at Hutchinson.
And nothing made the Beavers' run for a fourth more difficult than trying to stop the Ballock brothers — Mitchell a 6-4 freshman, and Andrew a 6-2 senior who is headed to Missouri Southern.
Those two combined for 39 of the Cardinals' total, but it was their supporting cast of Austin Downing (14 points) and Zachary Scroggin (11 points) that proved too much to overcome.
"Eudora's a very long, talented, athletic team," said Scott City coach Glenn O'Neil after Saturday's championship loss. "They're tough to defend, but I thought the kids fought their hearts out to the end. We just didn't play as well as you need to."
In Friday's dramatic overtime win against Concordia, Grant and Cooper Holmes had combined for 53 points against the Beavers.
Take nothing away from this group of Beavers, though.
There were four new starters in the lineup when they took the floor at this year's state tournament from the group that cruised to the 2013 3A title in Hutch (74-55 over Humboldt).
"I thought perhaps we were a little bit nervous at the start, and that Eudora was a little more relaxed," coach O'Neil observed. "We just had a tough time getting started."
Indeed, the Beavers found themselves on the short side of an 18-14 first-quarter score that eventually grew to a deficit of 13 points, 36-23, at halftime.
And part of the reason for the Beavers' sluggish start was foul trouble by their second-leading scorer, Brett Meyer, who went to the bench at the 5:13 mark and the team down by just five, 22-17.
"Anytime you take away the second half of your guard play, you're going to have a dropoff, and that really hurt us," said coach O'Neil.
The other reason was that Eudora's length played havoc with 6-2 junior guard Trey O'Neil and his offensive output. After scoring 21 and 31 points in the opening two games, O'Neil struggled to find open looks, and for the game was limited to just 4-of-15 field goals and 0 of 6 from 3-point range, but did finish with 15 points due to making 7-of-8 free throws.
"I just didn't play good at all, and that's all on me," Trey O'Neil said. "I didn't do what I needed to do."
When the second half got under way, the Beavers' deficit grew to 18, 45-27 and the Cardinals appeared on their way to a blowout. But then things changed. And they did in a big way.
Eudora coach Kyle Deterding was hit with a technical foul at the 5:45 mark and Meyer, back in the lineup, cashed in both free throws. Then, Sloan Baker scored on a back cut to the basket and was fouled. He made the free throw and suddenly it was 45-32 with 5:25 left.
"When we have all of our players on the floor, and they're doing the right things, we're a pretty good team," coach O'Neil said.
While Meyer sat for much of the first half and managed just two points, he was the scoring sparkplug for a rejuvenated Beavers in the final 16 minutes, scoring 20 of his game-high 22 points.
"He was amazing, and just played an incredible game," said Trey O'Neil of his backcourt mate. "Without him, we would not have been anywhere near in the game."
The Beavers' third-quarter surge continued all the way to the end of the eight minutes, and when the buzzer sounded, a driving layup by O'Neil had cut the once-seemingly safe Eudora lead to a mere two-point margin at 50-48.
When Meyer drained another 3-pointer (he was 3 of 5), it was a 52-51 Cardinal lead and the game was on again.
"I'm so proud of how we fought out there, but it made all the difference in the world to have Brett in the lineup," said Trey O'Neil. "Credit him. He's the reason we got back in the game."
It was still nip-and-tuck at the 5:51 mark when Meyer cashed in a 15-footer to make it 55-53 Eudora.
Then, the roof caved in. Or, in this case, maybe in the effort to get themselves back in the game, the Beavers' simply found their energy tank was running on near-empty.
Because from there, the Cardinals scored six straight points, interrupted by another 3-pointer by Meyer, making it 61-56 at the 4:20 mark. Then, the Redbirds went on a 10-0 coffin-nailing run to go up by 15, 71-56, at the one-minute mark.
There would be no final flurry of points in this one. The Beavers had given it their best shot with a group that many felt would never have a sniff at a state championship, let alone even making it to the state tournament when the season began back in December.
"We're young, and we're going to have a great bunch back next year," coach O'Neil said. "We accomplished so much this year. I'm proud of our seniors, and they were a big reason we got this far."
With the Beavers' title streak coming to an end, it did provide Eudora with its first state basketball championship in school history. The Beavers have five of those banners hanging in their gym, four of them coached by O'Neil.
"I like the group we have coming back," said a somber Trey O'Neil of a team that finished 21-4. "We fought out there, and we'll be back. Scott City basketball hasn't, and won't, go away."
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. O'Neil also handed out nine assists to come up just shy of a triple-double.
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).
Other tourney games: 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.
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