The Cedar Valley CourtKings and Minnesota Lakers have competed in the Midwest Basketball League together since the league’s inception in 2016. No doubt a rivalry between the two would rise. The first Sunday of May saw the two teams battle it out on the court as the Lakers (5-2) visited Waterloo for the first of two meetings in the regular season.
In three previous years of competition with one another, the Lakers (formerly known as the Rangers) have only notched two wins against the CourtKings, both coming in the 2016 regular season. The CourtKings haven’t looked back rattling off eight consecutive victories against their rival from St. Paul, including in the 2016 and 2017 MBL playoffs. Another chapter would be written into their competitive rivalry as they met at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex.
Things started a bit slow for the CourtKings as the Lakers jumped out to an early lead thanks to three point shooting from Taurice Smith and Jerry Sweezy. Cedar Valley responded with a strong inside attack against a Laker defense eager to close off one of the CourtKings most talented areas of play. Led by Brady Burford, Aundre Hicks and Jaree Crawford, the CourtKings got over the slow paced start to end the first quarter with a 26-19 lead.
In the second, Minnesota’s Roc Rodgers and Dominique Dawson took control of the Laker offense and slowed the Cedar Valley pace once again. While aided by a pair of Anthony James three point baskets, the CourtKings tallied a game-low 22 points in the second period while the Lakers attacked from mid-range and from three. Still, the strong early start kept the game close into the halftime break as the CourtKings led 48-46.
As if lighting from the earlier thunderstorms in the day had been captured in a bottle, the CourtKings struck big in the third period scoring 40 points after a slow second quarter. Hicks dominated much of the play scoring 16 in the period, including a pair of baskets from downtown. Emeche Wells came out of the locker room with an impressive second half, as did Jared Sutherland, who scored six points in the third and was a pivotal asset in rebounding. While the CourtKings excelled in the period, the Lakers struggled with only six field goals and seven free throws. Heading into the final frame of play, Cedar Valley jumped up big, 88-65.
The CourtKings put the finishing touches on another big game at home. Wells and Sutherland continued their impressive second halves, as Hicks and Burford helped keep pressure in paint down the stretch to help the CourtKings improve to 5-1 on the season with a 116-84 win, their largest thus far in the 2019 campaign.
Six CourtKings scored in double-digits figures, led by Aundre Hicks’ 28 points. Wells notched 18, Sutherland 16, Burford 15 and Crawford 12 points each in the win as well for Cedar Valley, their fourth in a row after dropping their first road game of the season back in early April.
“We do a good job at re-grouping, and the guys do a good job of clearing their head and understanding the style of play,” said Head Coach Michael Mohlis as he described the third quarter push. “It’s a credit to our guys who fight for 48 minutes, and finish with a product like that. Tonight, they dictated the tempo.”
The CourtKings wil take to the road this coming Saturday, May 11 to Minneapolis as they take on the defending MBL champions T.C. Elite. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:30PM.
Be sure to follow the CourtKings as they hit the road on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @CVCourtKings for updates on the game at T.C. Elite. Fans can also catch the call of the game on the Cedar Valley Sports Network by clicking https://www.meridix.com/channel/?liveid=CVCOURTKINGS#/ to listen.