On the first Saturday of June, temperatures in downtown Waterloo cooled down for enjoyable an afternoon outdoors. But inside the Cedar Valley SportsPlex, the Cedar Valley CourtKings stayed red hot as they took down T.C. Elite by a final score of 100-94.
Facing off in the first of three meetings this season, the CourtKings looked to pick up their eighth win of the season and remain as the only unbeaten team in the Midwest Basketball League. For the Elite, they looked to avoid falling to 5-5 on the year and into a deeper hole in division play. The Elite, coached by former WNBA star Tamara Moore, would bring their physicality and toughness to the court trying to knock off the two-time defending league champions.
In the first quarter, both squads traded shots with one another. The CourtKings played their interior game through Brady Burford and Johnny Jackson, while the Elite drove in using C.J. Parker, and Elijah Sabah. Burford also shot four for four at the free throw line as the CourtKings held a one point lead after one period, 21-20.
As the second quarter began, much of the same play continued. The Elite began to move the ball around more and feed more shot opportunities to forward Gaston Diedhiou. Three point baskets however by Raijon Kelly and Anthony James helped slow down momentum that the Elite had created. Strong defensive rebounding and transition play on both sides helped keep the second quarter tight as the teams headed into the locker room with the CourtKings holding a five point lead at the halftime break, 42-37.
The Elite started the third quarter strong with A.J. Wilson finding the basket for eight of his 17 point on the day, while four more points were added each by Sabah and Bryce Williams. But the CourtKings responded kindly by drawing the Elite into foul situations to go to the free throw line. Burford sank four more shots from the charity stripe to end the night nine for ten at the line, while Marcus Smith, Dylan Hale, and Mack Johnson each had turns sinking three point baskets. At the end of the third, the CourtKings had outscored the Elite 27-23 and lead 69-60 heading to the final frame.
Immediately out of the gate into the final period of play, the Elite pushed the offense into high gear, racing the ball into the front court for fast break scoring opportunities which included three long range baskets from Parker and Antonio Berry. The CourtKings on offense continued to execute their plan of spacing out and finding good looks to shoot from. That plan paid off as Jackson and Aundre Hicks were able to find space in the lane for open layups. As the clock ticked away, the Elite began to commit more fouls to send the CourtKings to the line, where Kelly shot five for six from the stripe to help seal the win 100-94. Six CourtKings finished in double digits in scoring as Brady Burford lead the way 17 points and five rebounds. Raijon Kelly and Raheem Tyner both finished with 14, Anthony James scored 11 and Johnny Jackson sank 10 points.
With the Dayton AirStrikers of the MBL’s Southeast Division losing their first game of the year earlier in the day, the CourtKings now stand alone as the only undefeated team remaining in the league. The Cedar Valley win also extends their record winning streak against MBL opponents to 36 games. The CourtKings will be back in action at home on Saturday, June 9 as they play host to the Rochester Roadrunners and 7:30pm at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex.