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Payge Booker-Rady tries to score over the outstretched arm of Eads freshman Anna Wollert during District 2 third place action.
Ty Lin Williams

Eads Girls Upset by Kit Carson in District 2 Third Place Game

By Betsy Barnett

March 1, 2024

The Eads Lady Eagles still looked shell-shocked on Saturday night in the District 2 Third Place game against Kit Carson as they were coming off a semifinals upset loss to Cheyenne Wells, 49-47. In the 3rd place contest, Eads should have been the favor to get the win as they had defeated Kit Carson 44-42 during the regular season on January 5th. In addition, Kit Carson, who has little depth on their bench were without the services of their starting guard and one of their top rebounders in sophomore Shay Rady who was out with a stress leg injury. But after a mind-numbing game for Eads, they found themselves on the losing end, 37-20. A head scratcher for Eagle fans to try to figure out.

Kit Carson’s third place victory ensured them a trip to the regional tournament. Despite losing two games in the District 2 tournament, Eads, who was ranked #7 before the tournament, still qualified but will now have to play away in the regional round. If they had taken care of business in the tournament, they more than likely would have been a regional host in Region 7 or Region 8.

As it went, however, Eads (15-7) is now seeded #9 and will play in the Region 8 tournament in #8 Kiowa (15-6). The Eagles play #24 Genoa/Hugo (7-15) on Friday, March 1 at 7:00 pm. If they win, they will be in the Region 8 championship game on Saturday night against the winner of Kiowa and #25 Nucla (9-11).

Eads totally controlled Genoa/Hugo in the regular season on February 15th, 57-16, but as they should realize by now, this is the post season and thus a new season where all earlier bets are off. They will need to bring their A game both nights if they want to earn a trip to the 1A State Tournament next weekend.

Kit Carson (13-9) gained some clout with the win over Eads and ended up in the Region 7 Tournament being played in South Baca. They are seeded #10 and will take on Mile High Academy (11-9) who is seeded #23.

Eads head coach Trey Eder said of the District 2 Tournament issues, “Our district is one of the deepest districts in the state. We knew going into the week that it was going to be tough. We got a good win on Tuesday and then had a matchup with Cheyenne Wells. They have been playing better and better as the season has gone on and we did not execute our game plan against them.”

Of the third-place game, Eder went on to say, “We struggled, and that loss set us up with Kit Carson. Another tough game that we barely won during the season, and we just never really showed up for this game. All aspects of the game were a struggle for us all evening. When you don’t execute you are going to fall short. “

The Eads problems against Kit Carson started from the tip off as they only managed a single free throw in the first quarter against the tight Wildcat 2-3 zone defense that doubled Eads post Anna Wollert inside. Kit Carson, on the other hand, enjoyed good offensive production out of the gate as Avery Johnson got things rolling right away with a long triple. The freshman doubled down with 4:20 left in the first stanza hitting a second long ball and getting the Wildcats the 9-1 lead.

Eads kept trying to go inside to Wollert but threw the ball away numerous times as the KC defense would not allow the entry pass. Wollert, on her part, ended up with her second foul with 31 seconds left in the first and took to the bench for most of the first half.

The second quarter saw Tailee Weeks-Johnson step up for Eads as she hit a three-ball at the 6:35 mark, making the score 13-6. Then it was Kit Carson’s turn for some foul trouble as key players Lindsey Mayhan and Payge Booker-Rady both took a seat after being charged with their third and second foul respectively.

By the end of the first half, and with 20 seconds remaining, Wollert hit a long two-pointer, with her foot on the line, getting Eads within a point, 15-14. But Booker-Rady responded with a prayer at the buzzer hitting a 30 foot three-ball leaving the halftime score at 18-14.

At the start of the third stanza, it looked as if Eads was headed on the right path as Weeks-Johnson promptly hit a jumper on their first possession, making the score, 18-16.

But things turned around quickly as Wollert pulled her third foul and the Eads players committed 4 quick fouls threatening to put the Wildcats on the free throw line early in the quarter in a double-bonus situation.

Eads continued to get some shots, but none fell. The Cats smelled blood and attacked the Eads defense scoring some transition layups and a three-ball by Nadaya Buttry with 4:00 left in the game.

In that final quarter Eads never scored until the very end when Wollert finally hit a jumper with less than 30 seconds remaining in the contest.

Johnson and Booker-Rady were both in double figures with 10 and 11 points respectively. Buttry and Mayhan each added 7 points. Mayhan also led the team in rebounds with 9.

The Kit Carson team suffered through 17 turnovers, pulled down 18 rebounds, and went an impressive 9-for-11 from the free throw line.

For Eads it was Wollert with 11 points and Weeks-Johnson adding 7 more.

Both teams now eye their respective challenges at the regional level of the post season. If they can win the next two games, they will both advance to the 1A Colorado State Tournament in Greeley that will be held March 7, 8, 9.

Eder knows his team has to get things lined up for them to be successful, “We can only hope last week was motivating for us and that we now realize we have to show up to play hard in every game. We are looking for good matchups in the regional round and know that we are going to have to work our tails off to try and get two wins and make the Final 8—the Big Dance.”

Eads Girls vs. Cheyenne Wells Girls in Semifinals

In the last minute of the girls’ semifinals game at the District 2 tournament between Eads (15-6) and Cheyenne Wells (13-8) the Lady Eagles had multiple opportunities to gain the tie or perhaps pull ahead. However, none of that was to be as the Lady Tigers tightened up their defensive pressure causing two late turnovers. With just seconds left, the Eagles had possession of the ball at their basket and could not get a shot off in time. The Tigers survived a major upset over the #7 ranked team in the state Eads, 49-47.

The story of this game was the aggressive man defense that stymied the Eads girls for much of the contest. The refs let them play and the game was very physical.

From the tip-off the game went back and forth all night as neither team could gain much of an advantage. Eads did have the lead, 12-7, very late in the first period but then got into foul trouble with key offensive player Tailee Weeks-Johnson getting her second foul and taking a seat. At that point, Tiger sophomore Aubry Carroll hit one of two free throws to inch closer after one stanza, but still trailing 12-10.

The Tigers took the lead in the second stanza as their defense caused multiple Eads turnovers. With the score tied, Eads senior Madison McDowell hit a triple to get the advantage, 15-12. But that lead would quickly slip away when two Eads starters including Bailey Sierra and McDowell took a seat in foul trouble as well.

After a Paige Ryser layup and free throw, the Tigers had the late first half lead 22-17, but Weeks-Johnson kept Eads alive dropping a three-ball at the buzzer leaving the intermission score in the Tigers’ advantage, 22-20.

And then the third quarter arrived and Eads—didn’t. Cheyenne Wells jumped out by nine behind the extremely aggressive play of Paige Ryser who was all over the court. Again, Eads finally answered trailing by one, 36-35, very late in the quarter on an Anna Wollert put-back at the buzzer.

That left the final quarter, and the Tigers could smell blood in the water as they ratcheted up the pressure on Eads. The score went back and forth, but just when the Eagles looked to gain the advantage, they would commit a foul or Ryser would breakaway for a bucket.

With 1:15 left in the game Sierra stole the ball and got it into Wollert who was fouled. The freshman made both her free throws putting the score at 47-45, Tigers’ advantage. Ryser then got her fourth foul against Sierra, giving Eads the ball. This is where a seasoned team realizes they have the advantage and takes it. With :55 seconds left Eads, instead, turned the ball over and then was forced to foul in order to stop the clock.

Tiger senior Izzy Trevino-Lopez made one of two free throws with :35 seconds remaining leaving the score at 48-45. With :24 seconds on the clock Eads guard Alessandra Paez was fouled and sunk both charity shots getting Eads to within one point, 48-47.

Ryser did a great job of keeping the ball in her possession, forcing Eads to foul her with12 seconds left. The junior made one of two free throws leaving the door open for Eads.

But Eads struggled to control the ball bringing it up the court against the Tiger defense and did not even get a shot off in the final :08 seconds of the contest.

The loss is a painful one for the extremely young Eads girls who no doubt learned some valuable lessons they will carry forward with them.

Ryser had a tremendous game with 25 points, including 3 triples.

Carroll hit for 8 points, while Aliyah Muth had 6, and Shaylee Scheler added 7 more. Trevino-Lopez pulled down 9 rebounds.

For Eads it was Wollert with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.

Weeks-Johnson also had a strong game but was in foul trouble. She would finish with 13 points.

Sierra and guard Lexi Shotton each contributed 7 points to the losing cause.

Cheyenne Wells will take their aggressive man defense to the title game on Saturday facing off with #1 McClave, another team that knows how to play the in-your-face defense. In their last meeting on January 4, the Cards destroyed the Tigers, 57-29. However, Cardinal coach Brianne Howe realizes this is in no way the Tiger team from January and her girls will have to be ready for a war.

McClave arrived at the title game with a 50-32 semifinal win over Kit Carson (#4, 12-9) on Thursday.

An unverified piece of history lists the fact that the last time Cheyenne Wells was in the District finals was 1987—that’s 37 years ago—or to put it another way it was when head coach Jason Muth was a toddler.

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