Since their inception in the Midwest Basketball League’s 2016 season, the Cedar Valley CourtKings have not suffered defeat on their home court. eight wins in 2016 at home, along with ten in 2017 that included two home playoff victories set the CourtKings up for another run at defending their home arena in 2018. After winning their first seven home matchups in the 2018 campaign, the CourtKings would face their toughest home test in their July 7th home finale against T.C. Elite.
Just three weeks after losing their first game in nearly two full years to the Elite in Minneapolis on June 17th, the CourtKings would take on the team from the north side of the Twin Cities in the final showdown before the Cedar Valley SportsPlex crowd on Fan Appreciation Night. With their playoff position already secured, the CourtKings aimed to build momentum heading into the MBL Playoffs later this month, as well as avenge their only loss of the season thus far. For the Elite, they came into Waterloo at 9-5 and in second place in the Northwest Division with their fate still to be determined as they played for the division’s final playoff spot.
In a total opposite from their previous meeting, the CourtKings came out of the gates on fire outscoring the Elite 15-0 in the first four minutes of play. Five Cedar Valley players hit shots from beyond the arc, including Aundre Hicks and Eric Coleman, who sank two baskets from downtown in his season debut with the CourtKings after winning the Portuguese Basketball League championship. Strong play in the paint limited the Elite to only 17 first quarter points, and a 12 point lead at the end of the first period.
In the second quarter, Brady Burford fought into the lane along with Coleman and James to extend their lead into the game. “I felt great out there tonight,” said Burford. “Coach said whoever won the paint would win the game.” Despite allowing more shots to fall for their opponent, the CourtKings finished the half strong with a 57-45 lead.
Burford’s paint game exploded further in the third period as he drove for ten points in the lane. On the Elite side of the bench it was Bryce Williams and C.J. Parker who became their team’s primary offensive weapons as they combined for half of their team’s third quarter points. Marcus Smith hit a shot from distance and a step back shot while James also sank six jumper points as a three as the CourtKings used a 34 point quarter to jump ahead by 14 heading into the final frame of action.
The final quarter of play gave the CourtKings the opportunity to blow the doors open. Four three-point baskets, including two from Raheem Tyner as part of his 12 point game. “Our guys got us going from the start,” head coach Michael Mohlis said. “We tried to push the pace as well as flow into our offense. I thought our guys also shared the ball really well tonight.” Good looks, great ball movement, and high pressure defense helped seal the deal for the Cedar Valley as they took down the Elite 127-111 to complete their third straight undefeated season at home. “Credit to all of our guys over the last three years,” said Mohlis. “We found a way to protect home.” Seven CourtKings finished the night in double figures in scoring with Burford leading the way with 26. Hicks scored 17, while James finished with 16, Marcus Smith, Coleman, and Tyner had 12 each, and Mac Johnson had 10.
With the home portion of the schedule now in the books, the CourtKings (13-1) will head to Minnesota for the final two road games of the season. The defending champions will be in Rochester to take on the Roadrunners on July 14th at 5:00pm, and St. Paul to face the Minnesota Lakers at 1:00pm on July 15th to close out the season. The MBL Playoffs will begin on Friday, July 27th in Collegeville, Minnesota with the CourtKings’ opponent as game time to be announced.