It took all 48 minutes and an additional five for the Cedar Valley CourtKings to get out of of the Windy City with their sixth victory of the season, but that’s what happened. The CourtKings, using a miraculous buzzer beater play at the end of the fourth period, blazed across the finish line in overtime to defeat the Chicago Legends by a final score of 125-116
Leading the Northwest Division by two games over T.C. Elite, the CourtKings looked to add onto their lead and stay undefeated on the 2018 campaign. In their way stood the Legends, a team in their first season as an MBL member after playing last season as a Branding Division team. Despite coming into the game however with a 1-5 record, the Legends had been known early in the season to put up large numbers of points on offense all over the court.
In the opening minutes, the CourtKings offense bolted right out of the gate, feeding the ball to Johnny Jackson in the paint, who scored 11 of his 20 points in the opening frame. Anthony James knocked down two three point baskets, while Brady Burford and Raijon Kelly chipped into the offense
To start the second, the Legends came out strong with a early run of layups, led by Reggie Gallion. Still the CourtKings kept the pressure on spreading the ball around with four different players each being able to convert two layups each, including Burford, Kelly, Johnny Jackson, and Marcus Smith. Despite both teams scoring 24 points each in the second quarter, the CourtKings led at the halftime break, 58-46. Jackson led the team in scoring at the break with 15 points, while Burford and James each stood with eight a piece.
The first minutes out of the halftime break for the CourtKings became extremely difficult as the third quarter began. A quick Legends offense and CourtKings struggles to rebound the ball on defense allowed Chicago to feed the ball into the paint for Derrick McDonald, who completed seven layups in the period. “We got sloppy and need to make sure we space the court better,” said head coach Michael Mohlis. “If we can do that, that’s going to give us more angles to drive and have easier passing angles.” A pair of three point baskets by Martell Stokes helped slow down the CourtKings with a strong offensive run to cut the lead down just one, 84-83.
Heading in the final period of regulations, the CourtKings continued to struggle to make baskets on their end of the floor as Chicago took the lead. Burford and Kelly manage to fight for defensive rebounds and force late turnovers that helped keep the defending champions within striking distance. As the clock ticked down to 1.9 seconds remaining, Raijon Kelly was fouled as he attempted a three point basket with his team trailing by four. After making the first of his two free throws, coach Mohlis called timeout to draw up a crucial rebound and score play. Kelly missed his third free throw intentionally, allowing Jackson to grab the rebound, pass it to Burford to shoot up and tie the game at the buzzer, forcing overtime.
With the momentum suddenly shifted in their favor by Burford game tying shot, the CourtKings didn’t crawl, but rather sprinting across the finish line to stay unbeaten at 6-0, winning 125-116. “We found a way,” coach Mohlis said after the win. “Credit to our guys for the way they battled. We’ve got a long way to go!” Raijon Kelly’s big fourth quarter helped him earn 30 points, six rebounds, and six assists, while Burford ended with 25 points, seven rebounds, and six assist. Jackson finished the game with 20 points, as Tyner added 14.
With Chicago now behind them, the CourtKings prepare for their final road game of their current road trip, as they travel next Sunday, May 27 back to Illinois to take on the Springfield Panthers. The CourtKings will then return home on June 2 to host T.C. Elite.
Season Statistics (thru May 20, 2018)