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Eugene falls to Cardinal Ritter

Eugene falls to Cardinal Ritter

Eagles end season at 26-2

March 9th, 2014 in News

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.

"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.