This archived article was written by: Tuna Sanford and Jordan Cunningham
The Golden Eagles are reaching their peak at the right time. With a six-game winning streak, the Eagles not only have the longest winning streak in the conference, but have moved up the ranks and are now closing in on the first place, College of Southern Idaho who are 9-3.
On Friday, Feb. 4, the Eagles upset Southern Idaho 82 – 72, a game that could have possibly pitted the two best teams in the conference against one another in the BDAC. This was a crucial conference win for CEU in order for them to be highly seeded in the conference tournament hosted at Twin Falls March 3-5. “In comparison, our bigs are better, but our guards are different. They have a few fast guards that are only good in transition, our guards are just as good but we play a different kind of offense.” Says head coach Brad Barton. James Kinney, led the team in with 19 points followed by Trevor Bamgartner, with 15 point, and Jonathan Mills, who had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Bryant Crowder also played well with several dunks and four blocked shots.
Despite losing by 33 in their first game against North Idaho College on Jan. 13 in Coeur d’Alene, CEU rose to the challenge and beat the Cardinals 78-73. North Idaho almost caught the Eagles sleeping Saturday, Feb. 5, as they struggled to score points and get into their usual fast-paced offense. Barton said the Cardinals are a more well – rounded team than CSI, other than they have a similar guard that plays well in transition. At the half the Eagles led by only two points 23 – 21. For the fourth game in a row James Kinney led the Golden Eagles with 21 points. Brady Hurst, had a double-double with 20 points and 10 assists. Crowder helped keep the momentum flowing in the BDAC with two alley-oop dunks that contributed to his 14 points. He also had eight rebounds and one assist. Maxim Zakharov played his part by scoring 12 points and pulling down six rebounds. Cameron Evans tied his season-high with five you assists.
James Kinney, after being out of first semester, has come back finding his place amongst his teammates. Barton says “I think he’s finally getting comfortable, it had been a long time since he played. He definitely puts our guard line on another level… James is a game changer no doubt about that… He is fund to coach.” However, Kinney cracked his mandible and will miss the rest of the season.
Coach Barton says “as a coach you worry about your players overlooking them [CNCC], they’re 0 – 10 in conference so it’s human instinct to overlook them… But I think our players are mature enough to realize the importance of the game, I think we’ll go out there and get a win.”
The Eagles traveled to Rangely, Colorado, last weekend to face the bottom team in the conference.
Coach Barton’s biggest concern going into the next two weeks, is facing the top four teams other than USU-CEU in our conference. Barton says “We will play good for 20 to 30 minutes of every game, that’s guaranteed but in order to win we need to play good for all 40 minutes.”
This weekend the Golden Eagles face third-ranked Salt Lake Community College who is 7-5 on Friday, Feb. 18, and fourth-ranked Snow College on Saturday Feb. 19, who recently defeated CSI making their record 5-6. Barton says “I’m not nervous because nerves do us no good… I’m more worried that Snow will become stronger after losing three of their best players… Sometimes we are better without our best players.” However, the Eagles are 2-0 against the badgers with a 39 point margin, and recently defeated the Salt Lake Bruins on their home court in Salt Lake. The Eagles will certainly be tested this weekend, but are picked to win both games.