Eudora — Topeka Highland Park's girls basketball team gave Baldwin High all it could handle for three quarters.
Then Emily Brown busted out.
Brown, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, was held in check by a swarming Scots' defense, but managed to shake off those defenders with help from in-bounds plays. Twice she took a pass and nailed open jumpers in helping the Bulldogs to a 59-49 win in the first-round of the Eudora Invitational on Monday.
"It's an area we practice a lot on," Baldwin coach Eric Toot said. "I feel like we can steal eight to 10 points a game off in-bounds plays."
Or steal a win. With 4:24 remaining, Brown hit a jumper, putting Baldwin up 51-45. She hit another a minute later, then made her seventh straight shot on a missed free-throw follow, sealing the win.
With Baldwin (2-0) outscoring Highland Park (0-2) 34-23 in the second half, it erased what had been a tough first half.
"We weren't real patient in the first half," Toot said. "We were taking good shots, but we need to take great shots.
"We've got to hit more of those shots to get Emily open."
Brown, who led all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting, set the trend for Baldwin's improved second-half accuracy. The Bulldogs connected on 13 of 24 shots, compared to making six of 22 in the first half. Kari Garrison added 15 for Baldwin.
Plus, dealing with the Scots' physical play gave Toot a boost when it came to the Bulldogs' toughness.
"This game will make us better down the road," Toot said. "We don't play real physical teams that often, and I thought our girls responded well in the second half."
Baldwin will play KC Ward today at 8:30 p.m. in the semifinals.
KC Ward 74, Eudora 36
When KC Ward's girls jumped on Eudora High early, it was a deficit the Cardinals might have overcome with some composure and quick buckets.
Instead, the hole just got bigger.
The Cyclones' win on Monday was built on the strength of a 17-2 run to start the game. Eudora had 11 turnovers and made just one of eight shots in that seven-minute span.
"It's big," Eudora coach Cara Kimberlin said. "Kids look at the scoreboard and they see that and it becomes a mental thing as well as a basketball thing."
The Cardinals (0-2) made a small run at the end of the first quarter, scoring six points in less than a minute, but Ward (2-0) responded by outscoring Eudora 20-6 in the second quarter for a 39-14 halftime advantage.
Behind the one-two punch of Ellen Stump and Molly Dumovich, who each scored 16 points, the Cyclones had the offensive firepower to complement their stifling defense. Their full-court press forced most of Eudora's 26 turnovers.
Freshman Michelle Deluna had 10 points to lead to Cardinals, who dearly missed junior forward Lauren Kracl, out because of finger surgery.
"We really miss her defense," Kimberlin said. "She's got long, lanky arms that are a real distraction when you're shooting. But tonight we could've used her on both ends of the floor."
Eudora will play Highland Park at 5:30 p.m. today in the second-round.
KC Ward 74, Eudora 36
Eudora 8 6 12 10 - 36
KC Ward 19 20 14 21 - 74
Eudora (0-2) :quot; Rachel Abel 4, Michelle Deluna 10, Mary Johnson 0, Tina Lauber 4, Mallorie Cleveland 5, Kelsey Epperson 2, Kayla Moyer 2, Joni Ridinger 4, Alissa Hamilton 1, Jodi Wingebach 4. Totals 11-45 14-24 36.
KC Ward (2-0) - Allison Rank 1, Beth Baughman 10, Debbie Dumovich 16, Clare Stump 8, Ellen Stump 16, Ashley Foster 8, Ashley Klemencic 7, Heather Golubski 2, Julianna Wolfe 6. Totals 32-63 9-19 74.
Baldwin 59, Highland Park 49
Highland Park 12 14 13 10 - 49
Baldwin 16 9 18 16 - 59
Baldwin (2-0) - Anna Skaggs 8, Katie Martin 2, Kayla Pringle 5, Kari Garrison 15, Emily Brown 24, Jamie Lawrenz 3, Kalie Harris 2, Katelyn Miles 0. Totals 19-46 17-26 59.
Highland Park (0-2) - Cherice Swopes 7, Candace Roberts 4, Amber Parker 11, Ashley Jones 11, Danyelle Tyree 6, Sasha Spann 5, Charressa Gray 3, Ashley Middleton 2. Totals 21-59 7-15 49.