At the midpoint of the Cedar Valley CourtKings game against the Minnesota Broncos on Sunday, April 14 in Anoka, many could predict that with a halftime score of 58-56 that the two-time Midwest Basketball League champions would face another tough mountain to overcome, less than 24 hours after their loss against the Eagan Bulldogs a day earlier. Rather than fight to the finish, the CourtKings (2-1) blazed their way across the finish line thanks to a strong second half defense in the Cedar Valley’s 115-94 win over their division rivals.
Things started slow for both teams with much of the early offense coming from the free throw line. Emeche Wells shot three of four free throws as part of his seven points in the first period. Jaree Crawford also helped with the inside game fighting to the basket with each open look he saw. With low field goal shooting and high intensity defense of both sides early, the CourtKings held a 26-25 lead after the first 12 minutes of play.
In the second quarter, the Broncos (1-2) produced their most effective period of the game on offense, dropping 30 points on the CourtKings before the halftime break. Minnesota’s Josh Gonnigan led the Broncos with nine points as Alejandro Richardson, Rondell Brumby and Antonio Johnson each hit from beyond the arc. The CourtKings responded in kind with a 33 point quarter of their own. Crawford, known for his strong inside game, showed he can shoot from distance with three baskets from downtown. Anthony James also dropped a pair of threes on Minnesota, as reigning league MVP Brady Burford also found offense both inside and outside the lane before halftime.
With a two point advantage out of the locker rooms, the CourtKings quickly pounced on the opportunity to grow their lead. Burford, Wells and Crawford combined for 18 of the CourtKing’s 29 third quarter points as the tight game mindset quick evaporated. Former University of St. Thomas forward Jordan Burich helped the CourtKings by grabbing defensive rebounds at a high rate, which quickly wore down the Broncos as they worked to transition back onto defense. By the end of the third quarter, the CourtKings increased their halftime lead from two points, to 16, leading 87-71.
The CourtKings allowed the offense to flow the Crawford as the Broncos offense continued to slip with turnovers and quick missed shots. Crawford scored 13 points in the final frame of action as Queshawn Roby, David Stanley and Steven Womack helped in quick transition scoring opportunities. Burford helped cap the game in the final minutes with a monster dunk off a Bronco turnover, helping the CourtKings pick up the 115-94 victory.
Crawford finished with a game-high 34 point in the winning effort. Wells scored 21 points as well in the win as Burford scored 16, and James tallied 10 on the day.
“Yesterday was tough on some guys,” Head Coach Michael Mohlis explained after the win. “Obviously you want to go 2-0, but after this game we’re starting to figure some things out. If we can have energy and effort, we can push and have fun on offense.”
The CourtKings will be back in action on Saturday, April 20 as they will travel back to Minnesota to take on the Rochester Roadrunners (1-2).