As the final quarter began, the switch flipped on. That was the case for the Cedar Valley CourtKings (16-1) as they began the final frame of play during their MBL West Division Semifinal Playoff game against the Green Bay Area Titans (9-9) on Sunday night at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex in Waterloo.
The Kings entered this game with a league best 15-1 record for the second straight season, and a first-round playoff bye with the West Division’s top seed. For the fourth-seeded Titans, it was their second game in two days after they eliminated defending MBL champions T.C. Elite on Saturday in their first-round opener Saturday afternoon in Green Bay. Entering this matchup, Cedar Valley had won both regular season meeting on the year.
After a quick start to the first period, the Titans stormed ahead, maintaining a small, but steady single digit lead. Brady Burford helped pace the CourtKings throughout with a pair of layups and a three as Green Bay’s fast paced offense worked quickly. At the end of the opening quarter, the CourtKings managed to hold a two point lead, 29-27.
In the second, the Titans, led by former Wisconsin-Green Bay standout Steven Baker, continued to display their offense firepower. Anthony James heated up from beyond the arc and from midrange, as Aundre Hicks also began to find his rhythm as the period turned into a back and forth. While the Kings did a good job containing the opposing offense, they found themselves struggling for baskets thanks to a relentless Titans defense. Green Bay jumped ahead 64-61 to end the first half.
Hicks, along with David Stanley and Emeche Wells helped guide the CourtKings throughout the third quarter, which still saw the Titans attack the basket. With a number of free throws by Baker, and a stellar quarter from Marcell Kemp, Green Bay extended their lead to as much as nine points as the third quarter rolled on. Cedar Valley was able to find some momentum late in the period as they jumped back up 95-91 going into the fourth.
As if night had become day, the CourtKings then came alive in the fourth quarter, and didn’t just make it past the finish line. They roared past it. With a depleted Green Bay bench, the Kings depth proved to be a huge factor as fresh legs worked to finish the game. With Hicks and Jaree Crawford leading the charge, a number of Kings players came off the bench in relief, including Isaac Freeman. The CourtKings posted a resounding 40-13 scoreline in the fourth period alone as Cedar Valley advances to next weekend’s MBL West Division Championship Game with a 135-104 win over the Titans.
Eight Cedar Valley players finished the game in double-digit scoring figures, led by Aundre Hicks’ 26 points. Stanley posted 18, while James scored 16, Burford 15, 14 a piece for both Wells and Jared Sutherland, 13 for Crawford, and 10 for Freeman.
“We went small,” said head coach Michael Mohlis as he described the fourth quarter surge. “We went small and tried to get the tempo back to our pace, and when we got it to our speed, that was the definition.”
The MBL West Division Championship Game will be played in the Cedar Valley SportsPlex on Saturday, July 13, and will be a rubber match as the top-seeded CourtKings host the second-seeded Eagan Bulldogs (14-4) with the season series tied at one game a piece. Eagan defeated Cedar Valley back on April 13 in Minnesota 126-122 in only the second game of the regular season. Since then it has been the only loss for the Kings as Cedar Valley won the rematch on June 9 at home, 135-124. The winner will receive the West Division’s automatic bid to the MBL Final Four in Fort Wayne, Indiana on July 20. The winners of the two Final Four games will then play for the league championship on July 21.
Doors to the Cedar Valley SportsPlex will open at 6:00PM for a 7:00PM opening tip. Tickets are available for purchase at the door upon entry at the game. Fans can experience our new courtside seating for $20 for a single game or all eight home games for $99. Adults single game tickets cost $10, while season tickets run for $59. Youth and college students can purchase single game tickets for $5, season tickets for $30, or youth/college student courtside seating for $15.
Fans can catch the online radio call the game with the voice of the CourtKings John Leo on the Cedar Valley Sports Network by clicking https://www.meridix.com/channel/?liveid=CVCOURTKINGS#/ to listen.
Be sure to follow the CourtKings on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @CVCourtKings for updates and news as the postseason kicks off!