Eugene falls to Cardinal Ritter

Eagles end season at 26-2

MOBERLY, Mo. — The Eugene Eagles saw their magical ride come to an end.

The top-ranked Eagles fell 61-53 to second-ranked Cardinal Ritter in a Class 3 state quarterfinal Saturday night at Moberly Area Community College.

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Adam Stillman reports

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“I’m extremely proud of this team,” Eugene head coach Craig Engelbrecht said. “It’s just sad that someone had to lose tonight. We would have loved to have gone to the Final Four but this has been a heck of a ride all the way through. I thought they overachieved all year long.”

It just wasn’t Eugene’s night against an athletic Cardinal Ritter squad.

“We just didn’t shoot the ball well, didn’t handle the ball well,” Engelbrecht said. “All the things we were supposed to do to be able to win the game we didn’t do.”

The Eagles turned the ball over 21 times and shot just 4-of-19 from beyond the arc (21 percent). Eugene specializes in the long ball, hitting nearly 40 percent of their shots from 3-point range this season.

“Their quickness (bothered us), we looked a little hesitant,” Engelbrecht said. “They run you off your spots when you try to shoot a 3. You have to put it on the floor and then we lost a lot of balls off dribble-drives.

“Shots we normally get against teams, they just weren’t there tonight.”

Eugene jumped out to a 7-4 lead in the first couple minutes, thanks to seven points from Travis Kempker. Cardinal Ritter responded to go up 14-10 after one period.

Eugene got within a point early in the second quarter but Cardinal Ritter responded again to go up 29-19 late in the period. It was a 29-21 halftime advantage for the Lions.

“We didn’t play very well in the first half, kind of got ourselves under the gun a little bit,” Engelbrecht said.

Yet the Eagles weren’t ready to quit. Cameron Massman and Kempker hit a pair of shots to open the second half, bringing Eugene within 29-25.

“Eugene came at us very hard, they played a good basketball game,” Cardinal Ritter head coach Marvin Neals said. “We didn’t play to the best of our abilities.”

That’s when Sean Clancey took over for Cardinal Ritter.

Clancey scored a game-high 23 points on 11-of-18 shooting for the Lions, but came up clutch when the Lions needed him most. The 6-foot-3 senior guard hit a pair of contested jumpers to give Cardinal Ritter the momentum right back.

“The Clancey kid is really good, really good,” Engelbrecht said. “He just made big shot after big shot.”

Ahead 31-27, Cardinal Ritter used an 11-2 run to assume control. The Lions led 45-31 after three quarters.

Eugene was able to get within 56-49 with about 90 seconds left, but that’s as close as the Eagles could get.

Cody Shaw paced Eugene (26-2) with 15 points, while Kempker added 11. Massman grabbed 10 rebounds.

Charles Jones added 17 points and threw down a nasty tomahawk jam for Cardinal Ritter, as did Clancey. Jah-Kobe Womack added 10 points off the bench.

Cardinal Ritter (23-6) returns to the Final Four for the first time since winning it all in 2010. The Lions will play Strafford (24-6) at 1:40 p.m. Thursday at the Hearnes Center in Columbia. Madison Prep and Barstow comprise the other semifinal.

“You can’t win a state championship if you play like that,” Neals said, unhappy with his team’s defensive effort. “I feel good about the win, but I don’t feel good about the performance.”

Eugene loses five seniors — Shaw, Massman, Drew Geritz, Mason Alderman and Austin Russell. But what a ride it was for the quintet.

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