The stars were aligned on Saturday night as the Cedar Valley CourtKings (16-2) hosted the Eagan Bulldogs (15-4) in the Midwest Basketball League’s West Division Championship at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex in Waterloo. While Cedar Valley fans were treated to a hard fought game between the division’s top two seeds, it was Eagan who prevailed in the 111-102 win to catapult the Bulldogs to next weekend’s MBL Final Four in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The first quarter began with a back-and-forth that saw both teams swap the lead numerous times. Mack Johnson hit a pair of three point baskets and mid-range shots to help guide the Kings offense, while Brady Burford powered Cedar Valley inside the paint. After the first twelve minutes, the Kings led 38-32.
In the second, Eagan’s Sean Scott came alive as the CourtKings struggled to make their shots fall. While David Stanley and Aundre Hicks helped keep the Kings within reach, the Bulldogs outscored Cedar Valley 29-21 in the second quarter, enough to take a 61-59 lead into the halftime break.
The struggles continued for the Kings in the third, as the Cedar Valley defense struggled to slow down the Bulldogs attack. Scott, along with Ernest Clayton fueled the Bulldogs strong attack of driving to the basket through quick ball movement. The Kings would also struggle at the free throw line as they would miss eight free throw attempts. Isaac Freeman’s height advantage and Burford’s mid-range attack would help keep the Kings within reach as Eagan would take a 83-81 lead into the final period.
Anthony James would provide a spark of offense in the late fourth period, but the Bulldogs offense would power itself to the final horn as the CourtKings dropped the game by nine points. Burford and Johnson led the way for the Kings with 18 points each, while Hicks scored 14. James notched 12, while both Jaree Crawford and Emeche Wells scored 11 points.
“It wasn’t our usual Cedar Valley CourtKings system,” said head coach Michael Mohlis after the loss. “We made a lot of simple, little mistakes that really cost us.”
While the Bulldogs receive the West Division’s automatic bid to the MBL Final Four, the CourtKings still have a chance to continue their season if they qualify for the event via an at-large bid. The Midwest Basketball League will announce the Final Four matchups, which will include the Bulldogs, the Fort Wayne Vision from the East Division, the Dallas Kings from the South Division, and the fourth at-large team at 12:00PM on Sunday, July 14.
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