Mill Valley surprises Cardinals
Unlike most freshmen, Mill Valley's David Woods learned the rigors of varsity basketball by replacing a senior all-league player.
Woods' experience as a varsity starter paid off Tuesday as the sixth-seeded Jaguars (10-11) won the first round of substate at third-seeded Eudora (11-10) 62-48.
The road to the 4A State Championship in Salina will go through Shawnee as the Jaguars host Piper (17-4) Friday. The Pirates defeated Mill Valley 47-36 Jan. 4 and 44-41 Feb. 15. Mill Valley Head Coach Justin Bogart said the Jags will benefit from the home-court advantage and the experience of playing the Pirates twice this season.
"We feel good about playing on our home floor," Bogart said. "We feel that we'll be competitive and give them a run."
Woods, who finished with a game-high 14 points on Tuesday, was thrown into the fire this winter when all-Kaw Valley League senior point-guard Cody Ptacek was sidelined with an injury. He learned the ropes of varsity basketball during the midst of a seven-game losing streak.
"If Cody doesn't get hurt, David Woods doesn't develop into a varsity basketball player," Bogart said. "Playing varsity football has more to do with (his level of poise) than anything."
Woods was the starting running back on the Jags football team that knocked off Kaw Valley League champion Basehor-Linwood, Huron League winner Bishop Ward, and 4A playoff participant Santa Fe Trail but couldn't get past Eudora in district play. Woods said that defeating the Cardinals in substate eased the pain of the gridiron setback this fall.
"That (football) factored into it a little bit, but I wanted to focus on basketball," Woods said. "It was an upset for them (to lose), but we thought it was a winnable game the whole time."
Mill Valley senior Ryan Cooley, nine points and 10 rebounds, controlled the offensive from the opening tip through the end of the game. The Jaguars' defense made sure that Eudora senior Lear Bowling, three points and two steals, would not scorch them from the outside. The Cards Wes Hinman, 10 points and six rebounds, played well against the taller Jaguar frontcourt of the 6-foot 5-inch Cooley and 6-foot 3-inch senior Paul Thom.
While they were unable to complete three-point plays at the free throw line, the Jaguars used those key plays to ensure that the Cards couldn't pick up momentum.
Eudora sophomore Tyler Cleveland scored nine of his team-high 11 points in the first half as he kept the Cardinals within three points, 20-17. Kaleb Niedens, nine points and four rebounds, nailed the first of his three treys before the Jaguars began an 18-2 run that spanned over the second and third quarters.
Eudora responded with an 8-0 run of its own at the end of the third to pull within 15, 43-28.
The Cards made six of their eight three-pointers in the fourth quarter, including one each from senior reserves James Blades, Tommy Shutt, and Jason Burrous.
Eudora seniors Zac Tyler, four points and seven rebounds, and Tommy Stein fouled out of their final games in the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars bench gave the starting five offensive production after a two-and-a-half minute drought early in the fourth quarter. Mill Valley junior Sean Scott contributed seven of his nine points during the final quarter and Thom, seven points, made a jump shot in the fourth.