The Eads Girls punched their ticket to the Region 3 basketball tournament for the eighth year in row finishing as the runner-up team in the District 2 tournament held at the Lamar Community Building over the past week. Eads entered the tournament in the #3 hole and defeated #6 Granada on Tuesday in the quarterfinals, 58-22. They then slipped into the upcoming Regional tournament getting a key revenge win over McClave, 50-35, in the semifinals on Thursday. But, a lackluster performance against the dominating Kit Carson Wildcats left them as the Maid of Honor, once again, losing to the top team in the state, 54-19, in the District 2 championship.
The Lady Eagles will enter the Region 3 tournament, to be held at La Junta High School on Friday and Saturday as the #8 seed and will have to walk through both #5 Sangre de Cristo and #2 Kim/Branson to qualify for one of the three spots in the upcoming 1A State Basketball Tournament. Eads has been here before and they know they will have to take care of business in order to advance.
Sometimes in the District opening round it is difficult for the higher seed to get motivated enough to play a team they have soundly beaten twice in the year. However, for the Eads girls this was not the case as they showed up ready to go and looked solid against a much-improved Granada Bobcat team. Eads came out in the first quarter in a strong man defense but got into a little foul trouble with Smith early in the half. Eads would be in control 14-9 after the first as Smith was solid as the big girl on the court and the Eagle guards did a good job finding her inside. She would hit for two buckets and be a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity line in the first period. But it was the second and third that put the game away for Eads as they blew the Bobcats out of the Lamar Community Building outscoring them 31-10. Eads was led by the strong guard play of Kaylee Wilson and Brenna Rouse while Smith continued to hold down the inside.
Granada’s four-year starter Tarin Kemp kept her Bobcats decent hitting for 13 points including a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. For Eads it was the triangle of Smith, Wilson, and Rouse that carried the day. Smith had a strong game getting a double-double scoring 20 points and pulling down 12 boards. Wilson had 16 points, 4 boards, and 4 assists. Rouse was solid with 15 points, including 3 long balls, and 5 rebounds. The loss ended Granada’s season.
Eads then faced off for a revenge match with McClave who had beaten them twice in the season including in the Holiday Tournament in the first round and at the end of the season just a week ago. Eads would need to get a solid win over McClave who had pulled off the #2 seed in the District tournament and had gotten to rest during the quarterfinal round. As it had been in their first two meetings, the Eads girls jumped out to a slight lead throughout the first half using four players who contributed in their inside-outside offensive game. The key in this lead was the strong defense Eads put on the Cards. By halftime, the Purple & Gold were in charge 23-18. However, in the past two games the Cards had come out and blown Eads out of the gym. Eagle fans were wondering if the intensity they’d seen in the first half would hold. It did, and then some, as the Eagles used an impressive third quarter to put away McClave. At one point in the third, Wilson hit a three-ball getting Eads a 14-point lead. But McClave roared back hitting a couple of buckets and forcing three turnovers on a full-court pressure attack. Coach Trey Eder called a good time out with just 54 seconds left in the third that re-focused his girls and got them back on track before too much damaged had occurred. By the end of the third, Eads was in control, 39-27, and everyone was hoping that was enough for the well-known Cardinal push. But, that push never really came as the Eagle defense was strong and the offense took their time and took care of the ball. Smith was huge in the final period as she hit a bucket and was fouled down the stretch going another perfect 3-for-3 from the line.
The Cards’ guard Jordan Parker managed 11 points in the game. Eads only had four players score including Wilson with 16 points and five rebounds, Smith with 15 counters and 9 boards, and Miranda Mitchek hit for 11 points and had 5 boards and 5 assists. Rouse was soild with 8 points. A key stat in the game was at the free throw line where Eads was an impressive 12-for-14 for 86%.
The win moved Eads into the Championship against Kit Carson who had strongly defeated Cheyenne Wells in the semifinals. This was a non-climatic game as Eads decided they were going to wait and play another day. They did compete in the first period where the very big and talented Cats only outscored their opponent, 16-8. In that period Rouse hit a three-ball, one of two on the night and Wilson got a jumper and a free throw. But after that it was all Kit Carson as Eads could not find any offensive production against the huge zone defense the Carson team brings to the floor. In addition, the Kit Carson girls are very talented offensively and beat Eads to a number of fast break opportunities. A terrible second half where the Eads players threw in the towel resulted in a huge point-deficit loss to the Cats.
Rouse had 6 points, while Hadlie Rittgers came in and gave some good effort for 5 points and 4 rebounds. Kit Carson had three in double figures with Tess Hornung leading the way scoring 18 points, while Micayla Isenbart put in 11, and sister Reyna Isenbart hit for 10.
The Eads girls, for the third time in a row, are sitting on Kim/Branson’s side of the Regional Bracket and must get through them to advance to the coveted state tournament. But, before that happens, they have a date with #5 Sangre de Cristo who is entering the Region 3 tournament after finishing as runner-up in the District 6 tournament last weekend. Sangre lost to Antonito who will be the #3 seed in the upcoming Regional Tournament. For the whole schedule and game times check out the Kiowa County National Bank scoreboard page in this edition.