This archived article was written by: Madison Hind
Starting the season with the highest preseason ranking in the school’s history can be good motivation for a team, and put a target on your back for other teams to take a whack at.
“With this being my first year here, I didn’t know much about the school’s basketball history, so when my teammates told me that we were ranked eighth and that’s the highest the school has ever been, I was really excited and grateful to be a part of the CEU men’s basketball history,” says Trevor Bamgartner a freshmen guard and key player to this year’s team.
So far the CEU men’s basketball team has answered the critics in a colorful way. The Eagles have started out 5-0 for the first time since they started 14-0 in the 2008-09 season.
The eighth-ranked EU team began their season with a couple exhibition games against two all-star teams and came out hitting the bucket identical 108 scoring games. The final score of the first night’s game was 108-70 against Impact Prep. Brady Hurst came out with a huge first game ending up with a double-double; 21 points and 10 rebounds, nine of those being offensive. Cameron Evans ended the game with 14 points, Neveij Walters added 13, Maxim Zakharov 12, and Bangartner 10.
In the Saturday game against Atwater LCC, the men came out with a bang hitting 55 percent from the field and hitting six out of 15 from behind the arc. The final score was 108-94. Evans and Jonathan Mills came out with double-doubles. Evans had 14 points and 11 rebounds. While Mills had 11 points and 10 rebounds. The scoring was spread throughout the team as Bamgartner added 14, Alfred Ingram and Hawk-Harris 12; and Brandon Williams, Renan Custodio and Zakrarov 10.
Getting wins at home against teams such as Impact Prep and Atwater LLC gave the men some confidence and morale for their road trip to Arizona.
The team took its hot streak to Arizona and took on three teams. Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Central Arizona Community College, and Eastern Arizona Community College.
The EU team started off the road trip with two easy wins, rolling over Chandler-Gilbert 77-63 and Central Arizona 94-77.
The last game seemed to ruffle the Eagles feathers as they ended their road trip with a one-point win over Eastern Arizona 87-86. They came out strong and went into halftime up by 20 points, but they knew they were in for a battle until the final buzzer.
Turnovers and three-point shooting by EA frustrated the Eagles as they lost their double-digit halftime lead. Bamgartner said, “As we were making a run, hitting three three-pointers in a row in the final minute, we kept our composure and knew we were going to come home with three Ws.”
Coach Brad Barton’s team is young with only two returning players and no returning starters. He is working on team chemistry and getting the guys to play together.
“Different players are stepping up each night and in almost every game, five players are in double figures. This is a good sign that the guys are sharing the ball.”
On discussing the conference, Barton admits that the Scenic West Athletic Conference is the toughest league in the country. North Idaho is ranked third in the nation, CSI is 13th and SLCC was national champions two years ago and placed second three years ago. Snow College has a lot of sophomores on its team.
He says CEU’s strength is its versatility and balance. “We can beat teams in a lot of ways.” In practice, his team is working on consistency and competing every day. “We work on things that take no talent like communication, concentration and listening.”
The Eagles take the court again at home this weekend against the Colorado Kings and the ProLook Sports. Tip off is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. Students are admitted free to the games with their activity card.