In their first road game of 2019, the Cedar Valley CourtKings gave the high powered Eagan Bulldogs all they could handle, but it was Eagan (2-0) who prevailed with the 126-122 win over the CourtKings (1-1) on Saturday afternoon at the Eagan Community Center.
Reigning Midwest Basketball League MVP Brady Burford got the CourtKings rolling early with 15 points in the first quarter. Despite strong inside defense early and four three-point baskets in the first period, the Bulldogs were able cut the CourtKings double-digit lead to one at the end of the first 12 minutes of play, 29-28.
In the second period, Jaree Crawford started to heat up with seven points. Long range shooting also helped the CourtKings as they battled to hold off Eagan runs. Crawford, along with Anthony James and Aundre Hicks hit from downtown to hit four more three-point buckets throughout the period. By the midway point of the action, the CourtKings were able to stretch their one point lead at the end of the first quarter to five at halftime, 60-55.
While Emeche Wells and Hicks helped get the Cedar Valley offense hot out of the halftime break, the Bulldogs intensified their attack inside the paint and from outside the three point arc. Despite scoring 35 points in the third quarter, their most productive offense period of the game, the CourtKings struggled to pull down rebounds off missed Bulldogs shots, allowing multiple second chance scoring opportunities for Eagan. Fouls also played a crucial role in the game as both teams were able to put their opponent into the bonus in each of the first three quarters. In 23 free throw attempts, the CourtKings were able to convert 15 points from the charity stripe.
The rebounding struggles continued to haunt the CourtKings into the fourth quarter as Eagan continued their intense attack of the basket as the game quickly turned into a back-and-forth race, with both teams exchanging the lead every few minutes. James was able to hit three critical three-point baskets in the late minutes of the game to keep the CourtKings within reach of making the score a one possession game. Unfortunately it was not enough as late fouls and free throws were able to seal the Bulldog’s four point win over the CourtKings.
Five CourtKings finished with double-digit scoring numbers, led by Burford, who finished the game with a team-high 27 points, while James netted 22 including six three-point baskets. Wells scored 20 as both Hicks and Jaree Crawford recorded 16 points each.
“It was a tough game, and credit to them (Eagan),” said head coach Michael Mohlis after the win. “They played with more energy and they found a way.”
“It’s game two. It’s a long journey,” Mohlis said to his team after the loss. “It’s a tough one, but it’s not the end goal. We gotta battle back and come together as a group.”
It will be a quick turnaround for the CourtKings as they will take on the Minnesota Broncos (1-1) at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon at the Pact Charter School in Anoka. Fans can follow the game against the Broncos with updates on Facebook and Twitter, plus listen to the live play-by-play call of the game by the Voice of the CourtKings John Leo by going online to https://www.meridix.com/channel/?liveid=CVCOURTKINGS#/schedule.