This archived article was written by: Micah Iverson
Oh the playoffs; the drama, the upsets, the glory and ultimately the opportunity to play for a championship. For many professional sports the playoffs involve, or are engaged by, those top teams who finish regular seasons at the top of their leagues. College basketball is a bit different. Every team has the opportunity to play for a national championship. It doesn’t matter what your record was during the regular season, if you win your conference tournament, you have the opportunity to move on to national tournaments, and if you represent well, then onto the ever-so elusive National Title.
The Golden Eagles from, yours truly, the College of Eastern Utah, go into the final week of regular season play with a 7-9 conference record before they take part in the conference tournament hosted by the conference champions from the SWAC.
The weekend of Feb. 18-19, the Golden Eagles hosted the Snow College Badgers for their final home games of the 2004-2005 season. The Badgers came into the BDAC fully rested off a bye week, ready to keep up with the league-leading Golden Eagles of the College of Southern Idaho. The Golden Eagles came into the game winning one of two the previous week in St. George against the Dixie State Rebels.
In the first of two games against Snow, the Eagles came out firing on all cylinders. Eldridge Henderson had the crowd in the game early as he shot the passing lane on Snow’s opening possession and took it all the way for the two-handed dunk. The Golden Eagles would trade baskets with the Badgers for much of the half and eventually take the halftime lead of 37-35.
Both teams picked up where they left off and continued to trade buckets in the second half. With under a minute to play and a 76-76 tie, the Eagles faltered and turned the ball over, catapulting them to the 76-81 loss.
The Golden Eagles shot a lackluster 35 percent from the floor and a dismal 24 percent from the three-point line. Leading the Eagles in the loss was team captain Chris Lang with 15 points and three rebounds. Henderson added 15 of his own while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists. CEU’s Tate Sorensen snatched a game high15 rebounds (eight offensive) in the loss.
The following evening, the Golden Eagles looked to rebound and even their conference record at 8-8 with a win against those same pesky Badgers. CEU once again did all they had to do in the first half and went into the locker room with a lead by the slimmest of all margins, 43-42.
The second half would see the Golden Eagles shoot just 22 percent (7-31) from the field and 60 percent from the free-throw line. The Golden Eagles were outscored 45-30 in the second half and would lose the game by the score of 73-87. Jamaal Smith, the Eagles’ starting point guard and the SWAC’s sixth leading scorer at 14.6 per game, was ejected late in the game for allegedly throwing a punch at Snow’s starting point guard Brandon Sholly. Sholly received a technical but was not ejected. Smith will sit the next game against Salt Lake Community College serving a mandatory one-game suspension for being ejected. Leading the Eagles in the loss was Lang who poured in 19 on 6-15 shooting. He also had five boards and four assists. Following him was Smith with 11 on 8-9 from the free-throw line.
The Golden Eagles will take their 7-9 conference record on the road this weekend as they travel to Salt Lake to take on the Bruins of SLCC to finish up the SWAC regular season. The Bruins came off two wins this past weekend against North Idaho College to push them to 12-4 in the SWAC, good enough for third in the conference, and 12th overall in the national polls. The biggest games of the weekend will be in Twin Falls, Idaho, between conference leading CSI and second-place Snow. If Snow wins both, the conference tournament will be hosted in Ephraim. If they split the games, the tournament will be in Twin Falls. With the conference tournament just around the corner, every game this weekend for each team will be a momentum builder going into the tournament held March 9-12.
If you are not able to make the commute this weekend to SLCC to support your Golden Eagles, tune in on the radio to 98.3 FM KARB and listen live. Games start at 7:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday nights.