Fans poured into the Cedar Valley SportsPlex on Sunday night as the fourth season of CourtKings basketball tipped off in thrilling fashion against the Iowa Elite Pro out of Des Moines. With a tough challenge in facing a hot offense in one of the Midwest Basketball League’s newest teams, the CourtKings looked to also defend their home court, where they have not lost in franchise history.
The action got off to a bit of slow start in the first few minutes of tha game as both defenses locked in and held their opponents to only a few points via the free throw line. Defense would be a critical factor in this game for the CourtKings, and they would try and slow down the Elite Pro, who had scored 154 points the day earlier in a game at the Minnesota Broncos. Both teams would trade baskets down the stretch and end the first quarter in a 31-31 tie.
The second quarter saw the CourtKings briefly fall behind, but then rally and begin to pull away. Aided by a three point basketball by Aundre Hicks, and excellent shooting by reigning league MVP Brady Burford, as well as Queshawn Roby and Anthony James, the CourtKings were to defend the basket and go up by five points at the halftime break, 63-58.
In the third, the offense continued its efficiency as Burford hit four more shots from the field. James hit his second three of the night as Hicks and Roby added another basket from downtown as well. Despite only 28 third quarter points, it was the CourtKing defense who was able to in this period, and throughout the game, be able to get stops and force turnovers for more offense scoring opportunities. At the end of the third, the CourtKings opened up a double-digit lead, 91-83.
Down the final stretch of the fourth quarter, the Elite Pro cut the CourtKing’s deficit to just two points. However, thanks to the stellar play of James and Hicks, the CourtKing were able to hold off an Elite Pro comeback inside the lane and at the free throw line to cap the 123-118 win. Three CourtKings scored 20 or more points, led by James with 27 points. Hicks netted 26 points, while Burford scored 20. Jaree Crawford would add 18 points to the winning effort as the fourth CourtKing in double-digit scoring.
“It was a high-level game,” said head coach Michael Mohlis after the win. “Those guys played with a lot of energy. We knew that they would come out that way, but our guys battled.
The CourtKings now prepare for a double-header weekend as they will take on the Eagan Bulldogs on Saturday, April 13 at 3:30PM in Minnesota, before facing the Minnesota Broncos in Anoka at 3:00PM on Sunday, April 14.