This archived article was written by: Riley Spears
Ending the pre-season on a 105-58 whooping over the Utah All-Stars before the Christmas break, the Eagles were ready to get the conference games started. They ended the pre-season with a .600 winning percentage, going nine and six. They entered conference play in fourth place and ready to show that they are better than what their record shows. The conference was going to be tough once again for the CEU men. With three of the teams ranked in the top 20 in the national polls, Southern Idaho ranked second, Salt Lake Community College fifth, and Northern Idaho at a still impressive 19th.
“Our pre-season was grueling and difficult, meant to teach our players some toughness so they will be ready to compete in conference,” says first year head Coach Chris Craig.
“We played on the road a lot of the time and went though a lot of adversity but did a good job on the road,” says Darington Hobson.
After a grueling 19 and one-half hour drive to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho last week, CEU started off the conference against North Idaho College Cardinals. The Eagles came out starting Hobson, Aaron England, Kal Bay, Felix Casperi and Rafael Moreira. Playing tough defense, the Eagles held NIC to only eight of 28 from the field and a 28.6 shooting percentage including going 0-10 from behind the arc.
The Eagles on the other hand came out hitting their shots scoring 42 in the first half and shooting 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc. The Eagles struggled to get to the line, only getting three attempts.
The Eagles went into the half up by a score of 42 to 23 over the 19th ranked team in the nation. They came out in the second half with a much more evenly matched game. Both teams came out shot for shot, but NIC put up 10 more shots than CEU but still managed only a 35-percent shooting percentage.
NIC started to hit some of their shots from beyond the arc, hitting 7-20, but lost points from the charity stripe, going 58 percent from the line. The Eagles still had a high shooting percentage going 10-21 from the field, but only 14-22 from the free throw line.
Even getting outscored in the second half by three, the Eagles pulled out the win against the nationally ranked team with a final score of 77-62. CEU also out rebounded NIC by six in the close contest. “I felt good for the guys, they really worked hard after the Christmas break, they deserved the win,” said Craig.
The leading scorer for the Eagles was Hobson with 18 points and 14 rebounds completing the double double. Casperi was right behind with 15 points and five rebounds. England also cracked double digits with 13 points. Everyone on the team contributed to the win and every player on the bench played and did their part in getting the win. “The team came in really pumped for the NIC and prepared real hard,” said Hobson. “We came out ready to play and really played together,” added Sutton.
After that huge win at NIC, the men traveled to face the number-two team in the nation, CSI in Twin Falls, Idaho. The CSI Golden Eagles came into the game with an unblemished record and the CEU men wanted to break their winning spell. In the first half, CEU shot an impressive 51 percent from the field and 60 percent from behind the arc, both stats were better than those of CSI. ” The team came in real confident something that I really like about this team is they always believe they can win.” said Craig
The Idaho Golden Eagles ended up with the lead at the half due to their shooting from the free-throw line, 19-22 compared to CEU’s 8-10. CSI led by 12 points at half 47-59.
The second half the game was much closer with both teams making 16 shots from the field and CEU making three more from behind the arc. Even with what seamed to be a better half statistically, CEU lost the game by 15 points, 88-104. CEU was out rebounded 31-43, with second chance points being a huge contributor to the loss. CEU was out scored 31-10 on second chance points, and out scored 2-14 on fast- break points.
Bay had a team high, scoring 23 points on 8-15 from the field including 7-12 from behind the arc. England was also in double figures with 14 with Casperi adding 13. “We felt we really came into that game prepared ,there was just a three minute span where they didn’t miss,” said Hobson.
CEU plays the number-five team in the national JUCO polls, SLCC Bruins, who are undefeated, in Price on Friday, Jan 18 at 7:30 p.m. and host rival Snow College Badgers who are fifth in conference on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. in the BDAC.