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Boys Basketball: Sandburg stings Eisenhower

Updated: April 5, 2014 6:21AM



Sandburg coach Todd Allen told his team prior to Monday night’s Class 4A play-in game against Eisenhower to expect scoring runs, both good and bad. The Cardinals’ uptempo style and fullcourt pressure made sure of both.

For the Eagles, the bad occurred early, with the Cardinals connecting on eight three-pointers in the first quarter and eventually opening up a 13-point second-quarter advantage.

Sandburg, however, experienced more good than bad the rest of night.

The Eagles used an 18-5 spurt to close out the first half and a 22-8 advantage in the fourth quarter to post a 77-64 victory at the Eisenhower Regional. The No. 15 seeded Eagles (10-17) advance to play No. 2 seed Thornwood at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

“They’re (Eisenhower) a hard team to prepare for,” Allen said. “We didn’t see anything like that all season. They shot the ball extremely well in the first quarter.”

A change from zone to man-to-man defense took the air out of Eisenhower’s sails. The Cardinals (12-17) converted just six threes the rest of the night and finished 14-of-46 from beyond the arc.

“When they went man, we should be able to get a cleaner look at the basket,” Eisenhower coach Mike Curta said. “We weren’t getting shots off and we would drive and not kick the ball back out. Credit to them for switching to it.”

Sandburg’s five starters accounted for all of the Eagles’ point. Niko Cahue had a huge game, racking up 25 points, mostly on uncontested layups. Erik Straka (18 points), Alec Martinez (14) and Niko Kogionis (14) also reached double digits for the Eagles.

“We’re more of a slow-paced team that likes to set things up,” said Cahue, who was 8-of-13 from the field. “It was different playing this style. It was a lot of fun.”

Eisenhower led 62-61 early in the fourth quarter, when Martinez converted a pair of free throws to give Sandburg a 63-62 advantage.

The Cards never led again, going 3-of-18 from the field over the final eight minutes.

Sandburg countered from the free-throw line, with Straka, Martinez and Cahue going a combined 16-of-22 in the fourth.

“I was really happy how we played defensively,” Allen said. “Niko did a nice job on the boards. I thought Straka did a nice job on (Vinny) Curta.”

Straka held Curta, the Cards’ leading scorer, to 13 points. Romale Cook led Eisenhower with 25 points, hitting seven threes. Calviontae Washington added 15.

“It’s very disappointing,” Mike Curta said.



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