Eudora So many positives emerged for Veritas Christian’s boys basketball team Friday night that the end result just didn’t seem right.
The Eagles overcame the loss of two regular contributors to the starting lineup. They fought back to tie the game in the final minute of regulation despite not leading for most of the second half. They buckled down for a critical defensive stand in the waning seconds to force overtime.
And yet, the Eagles left the Eudora Community Learning Center experiencing the same frustration they’ve felt all season — that of another loss. This time, the Wichita Defenders took down Veritas, 61-56, in overtime.
The same old story featured a familiar antagonist: turnovers. Twenty-six of them, to be exact.
Some turnovers may be excusable, but Veritas coach Doug Bennett said most of Friday night’s mistakes were not.
“A lot of them are just unforced turnovers where we’re either not aggressive or not smart,” Bennett said.
Now, the Eagles (0-5) must wait more than two weeks for their next game — until Jan. 6 — to try picking up their first victory of the season when they play at Topeka Cornerstone.
For all those bad feelings associated with Friday’s contest, Veritas played quite well for stretches.
The largest lead for either team occurred at 4:14 of the third quarter, when Wichita’s Tate Jackson nailed one of his five three-pointers, extending the Defenders’ edge to 34-28.
Veritas never went away.
Twice the Eagles tied the score in the third quarter but never grabbed the lead.
A John Hicks layup to begin the fourth quarter for Veritas finally handed the Eagles their first advantage of the second half at 40-39. Veritas increased its edge to as many as four at 46-42 with 5:12 left in the fourth on Ethan Kay’s layup.
Two more Jackson three-pointers put the Defenders back in front, but the two teams traded buckets until the end of regulation. Kay’s final score of the quarter tied the game at 52 with 51 seconds left.
Wichita held for the final shot of regulation, but Hicks knocked a pass away as time expired to preserve the tie temporarily.
In overtime, freshman Elijah Penny put back a Hicks miss to put Veritas ahead, 54-53, with 3:27 left.
“We were just trying to keep the momentum going,” Kay said. “Take that and run with it.”
It never materialized. Forty-two seconds later, the lead was gone on Grant Ingram’s layup. Turnovers wouldn’t allow the Eagles an opportunity to make a move.
Were players more satisfied with the effort or disappointed to put in the work but still remain winless?
“It’s mostly disappointment, honestly,” Kay said. “It’s hard to lose a game like that.”
Both Kay and Hicks led the Eagles with 16 points each, doing nearly all their damage in the post. Nate Scott added 12.
Jackson paced the Defenders with 29 points.
Veritas played without two starters that Bennett had penciled into his lineup at the beginning of the season. Ethan Scott suffered a cracked wrist early in the season, and 6-foot-4 big man Taylor Zook is academically ineligible, but should return to the team in January.
“When we get all our parts together, I think this team’s got a bright future,” Bennett said. “ I’d say we’re one of the best 0-5 teams out there.”
Wichita Defenders 56, Veritas Christian girls 20
Veritas committed more turnovers (10) than it had shots attempted (six) in the opening quarter, resulting in an early deficit that the Eagles couldn’t overcome.
For the game, Wichita fired up nearly twice as many shots as Veritas (62-33), largely because of Eagles’ turnovers and the Defenders’ huge advantage on the boards.
In particular, Veritas (0-5) struggled to box out the Defenders’ center, Sarah Munds, who scored all seven of her team’s field goals in the first quarter inside the paint.
“We’re a pretty small team this year,” Veritas girls coach Kevin Shelton said. “That’s one thing we’re trying to overcome is the lack of our size. We’re going to keep working at it, and hopefully use some of our quickness to our advantage when we can.”
The game began well for the Eagles, but it got out of hand in a hurry. Veritas guard Taelyr Shelton buried a jumper at the 5:41 mark of the first quarter to tie the game at 4.
Wichita followed with an 18-0 run to put the contest out of reach before halftime. The Eagles didn’t end their drought until Kirsten Bennett hit a jump shot late in the second quarter, ending a span of 11 minutes, 16 seconds without any points.
“I think we got a little bit tired, and we weren’t getting the rebounds, and our press kind of fell apart,” Bennett said. “It’s hard because we don’t have anyone that’s a big presence inside.”
Munds led the Defenders with 24 points while playing only 21⁄2 quarters.
Shelton paced the Eagles with 10 points. Bennett and Becky Finger added four apiece.
Veritas is off until a game against Topeka Cornerstone on Jan. 6.