The Eads boys’ basketball team had two home games to open up the main part of the 2018-2019 preps season. They would lose them both, including a 72-45 loss to Kit Carson on Friday night; and a 57-46 heartbreaker to an extremely athletic Stratton-Liberty group on Saturday night.
Marcus Gilmore’s youngsters are still looking for the key to putting four complete quarters together in order to win a ballgame.
“Our lack of experience is still the case. We are learning and progressing but so are the rest of the teams. We are starting to do more things right and we will find a little success at times, but we haven’t done it a full four quarters yet,” stated Gilmore.
Friday night’s rivalry game with neighbors to the north, Kit Carson, was a perfect example of the on-and-off performance the Eagles are putting on the court. Eads gave the Wildcats all they could handle for two of the four quarters played, but unquestionably lost the contest in the first quarter giving up 28 points to a hot-shooting Cat team.
Eads sophomore Damien Barnes was ready to go at the tip-off as he carried his team through the miserable first quarter with a couple of jumpers and two free throws. But other than that performance the Eagle defense was non-existent as they gave the Cats numerous easy, uncontested looks at the bucket. In fact, the KC group rolled along with five long balls in the first stanza including two from Cordell Farmer, two from Brayden Bogenhagen, and a fifth one by Brock Weiand. After the first the Cats had the game in the bag leading 28-12.
But, to their credit, the very young and inexperienced Eagles roared back in the second quarter outscoring the Wildcats, 20-16, behind a couple of Ty Wilson bombs, three jumpers from Dillon Hernandez, and another slew of free throw makes by Barnes. It was apparent that Kit Carson did not have a guy who could match up physically to Barnes resulting in a number of visits to the charity line.
The game was not out of reach at halftime as Eads trailed, 44-32.
But the contest was decided in the third as Eads’ defense allowed another flurry of three balls with Chris Bryan, David Arnold and Jared McCombs-Farmer getting in on the action.
Cordell Farmer led all scorers with 19 points for Kit Carson. He would be joined by Bogenhagen who added 11 and Jayden McCombs-Farmer and Sullivan Farmer who each had eight points.
For Eads it would be Damien Barnes with a double-double on the night including 16 points and 10 rebounds. The sophomore also added 2 assists to the list. Hernandez battled to 10 points. Wilson added 8 points and pulled down 7 boards. Freshman Cade McDowell, coming in off the bench, contributed in a big way pulling down 5 rebounds. Senior Blake Stoker also had five boards.
Saturday night’s game more resembled a football game rather than a basketball game. Eads had welcomed the 6-Man State Football Champions, Stratton-Liberty, and from the tip-off the Knighted Eagles proved they were going to need their superior athleticism, strength and speed to win the day as their basketball skills left something to be desired. However, they would eventually overpower the younger and smaller Eads group getting the win.
The officials really struggled to get a grasp on the extreme physicality of the game as the SL boys used a full court, jumping trap defense the entire night against the Eagles. The hometown boys rose to the occasion and went bucket for bucket with the older SL group; actually, just down a couple of buckets at halftime, 23-19.
Eads point guard Alex Schmidt came out firing on all cylinders for the Eagles scoring the first bucket of the night and grabbing a couple of steals. Then, as it often times happens, the junior from Plainview got in foul trouble and was forced to ride the pine for a lot of the game. Losing their point guard right out of the gate with the kind of intense defense the Knighted Eagles applied was a major blow for the Eads boys.
However, Eads led 11-7 after a fast-paced first quarter where both teams did a whole lot of running up and down the court but made little progress in the scoring department. The hometown Eagles got five points from Stoker to begin the quarter.
As Stratton-Liberty warmed up, Eads began to wear down under the intense pressure. The SL group made up some ground in the second and grabbed the 23-19 lead.
And, again, as it seems to happen every darn time, Eads lost this contest in the third quarter where the Knighted Eagles scored a powerful 22 points to Eads’ 10. Gilmore’s worst nightmare happened early in the third quarter when he was forced to sit four of his five starters because of foul trouble. As the varsity sat on the bench, the visiting Knighted Eagles picked it up on Eads’ bench. Despite the pressure, the young Eads boys continued to play hard with McDowell and Wilson each hitting a long ball to keep Eads alive.
However, the game was out of reach for Eads as they were outscored, 22-17, in the final period.
A total of 10 players scored for Stratton/Liberty in the contest with no one in double figures. Tysen Lichty and Owen Clapper each had nine points to lead the Knighted Eagles.
For Eads it was Barnes with a huge game, a second double-double, as the athletic sophomore scored 10 points and pulled down a phenomenal 23 rebounds in the contest. In checking the Eads basketball school records, Barnes’ 23 boards effort was just two short of a very impressive record held by Max Owens, Jr. in 1984 when he pulled down 25 rebounds. Hernandez really picked up his game over the weekend as the junior had 7 points and pulled down a strong 13 boards. Barnes had 5 assists and Hernandez had 3.
One glaring stat was the 39 Eads turnovers the Stratton-Liberty boys forced.
Gilmore was reflective about his team after going through that kind of intense defensive pressure, “Our effort is always there, and we don’t quit. One of these games that will pay off for us.”
The Eads program did have a shining moment on Saturday night as the JV group won a solid, and well-played game, 42-33, over the Stratton-Liberty JV team. Eads got some impressive play from a handful of players with Keaton Coen leading the JV effort with 12 points, followed by Brandon Lening with 9, and Donte Sierra chipping in 8 more.
Eads will only have one game this week as they travel to Idalia on Friday, January 11, with the hopes of grabbing a much-needed win on the road. The Wolves are sitting on an average 4-5 season record.