Late defense holds off T.C. Elite in critical road win

The Cedar Valley CourtKings knew they would face a massive challenge with all hands needed on deck when they travelled to the Twin Cities area over Mother’s Day weekend to take on the reigning Midwest Basketball League champions T.C. Elite. When the final buzzer sounded, they knew they had picked up a well earned road victory.

Ten months removed from the last CourtKings-Elite meeting in the 2018 MLB Playoffs, the defending champions turned over a number of players on their roster with a number of new acquisitions, including former Minnesota Laker Latrell Love. With both teams riding four game winning streaks into this match-up, the pressure was laid on the line with positioning atop the MBL West up for grabs.

Emeche Wells paced the CourtKings out of the starting gate with eight quick baskets. David Stanley and Aundre Hicks hit from downtown as Brady Burford and Anthony James each got out to strong starts as well. T.C. Elite’s Darian Robinson proved to be one of just many clutch shooters the Elite revealed on the court as the first period progressed as he hit two baskets from long range in the first 12 minutes. At the end of the first quarter, the CourtKings led 31-29.

Cedar Valley was able to start out the first few minutes of the second quarter well, with solid shooting and defense from Jared Sutherland and Jaree Crawford. Momentum suddenly shifted towards the Elite’s favor later in the period as Love, Rodney Williams and former CourtKing Darius Campbell lit up the board. Campbell would hit both his second and third three point baskets of the game in the second. Behind James, Burford and Wells, the CourtKings were able to string together a solid defensive effort late to go into the halftime break up 64-59.

The battle between two of the MBL’s top teams only intensified in the second half as Mark Cooper took over the Elite’s inside attack. With the size of Williams to block out CourtKings defenders, the Elite pulled ahead midway through the third quarter. Burford, with some help from off the bench from Queshawn Roby, steadied the ship to avoid the Elite from breaking out on a large run. Despite a tough third quarter, the Kings held the Elite lead to only two points at the end of the third quarter, 92-90.

In what can only be described as an agressive back and forth, the final minutes of this game saw both teams trade offensive blows. Cooper continued his relentless drive up the lane for the basket, while Campbell continued to display his impressive three point shooting ability. Not allowing the lead to pull out of reach, the Kings fought every possession to either tie or take the lead. Three point buckets by Crawford and Hicks helped the CourtKings pull even, as did late turnovers by the Elite. Leading by one with just under two minutes, Wells delivered a critical three point basket to go up four. While the CourtKings were unable to score again after that basket, the defense stood firms and prevented a late comeback in the final seconds as the Cedar Valley narrowly escaped the Twins Cities with the 121-119 win.

A season-high seven CourtKings players ended the game with double-digit scoring figures, led by Emeche Wells with 25 points. Burford finished with 22, Crawford with 17, Stanley with 15, Hicks with 14 and both James and Roby with 10 points each.

“What a game,” exclaimed Head Coach Michael Mohlis after the win.  “Credit to our guys for just battling through a lot of adversity and toughness. It wasn’t pretty. They found a way with guys down the stretch coming up big.”

The CourtKings now return home for a Sunday, May 19 meeting with the North Minneapolis Eagles at 7:30PM at the Cedar Valley SportsPlex. Doors to the Cedar Valley SportsPlex will open at 6:30PM for the 7:30PM tip-off. Tickets are available for purchase at the door upon entry or online at 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.

Be sure to follow the CourtKings on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @CVCourtKings for updates and news. Fans can also catch the online radio call of the games on the Cedar Valley Sports Network by clicking to listen.

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