This archived article was written by: Tuna Sanford and Jordan Cunningham
College of Eastern Utah’s men’s basketball team went two for two in their last four games of conference play. They gained both of their loses this past weekend in Idaho against College of Southern Idaho and North Idaho College. Despite the bad ending to conference play; the Eagles still finished with the second seed heading into the Scenic West Athletic Conference tournament this weekend.
On Friday, Feb. 18, EU faced Salt Lake Community College at home, the third meeting of the two teams this season. The Eagles lost at home to the Bruins in January and beat them by one on the SLCC court the first weekend in February.
This game provided all the pizazz of two talented teams with the score see-sawing back and forth the entire game.
Jonathan Mills led the team to an 80- 77 victory with 25 points and 17 rebounds. Maxim Zakaharov followed with 16 points and Trevor Bamgartner added 12 points, six rebounds and three assists. “Salt Lake is tough because they are so physical; and also because they deny so much on defense” said James Kinney.
On Feb. 19, Snow College traveled to Price to receive an 81-70 loss against the Golden Eagles. It was the third loss of the season for the Badgers by the Eagles. CEU led the entire game by as many as 18.
“Snow is a solid team, but we have their number,” says Cameron Evans.
Almost everybody on the roster got playing time. “After we got up by 20, I started playing everyone to give our starters a rest and to prevent injury” says Coach Brad Barton.
Zakaharov lead the team in points with 17, Bamgartner was closed behind with 13 points, three rebounds and four assists. Bryant Crowder also had a big game, recording 12 points and eight rebounds.
In Idaho last weekend, CEU faced CSI to decide who would be the number-one seed for the SWAC tournament and win the conference. The Eagles from Eastern Utah led the entire game, up by 13 during regular play. In fact, they led the whole game when up by three, Mills missed his second free throw and CSI hit a three pointer to tie the game at the end of 40 minutes. It was not until the first overtime when CSI had a lead of four points. CEU played catch up and tied the score sending the teams into the second OT. With four seconds left of the clock, CEU’s Zakaharov got the ball stolen from him and CSI ran out the clock with an 88-86 win. Both of CEU’s big men, Brady Hurst and Crowder fowled out during the overtimes.
“With Kinney hurt, our guard play is a little shallow and that is where CSI is strong,” Barton said. Mills and Hurst both had double doubles. Mills with 22 points and 13 rebounds, and Hurst with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Zakaharov had 18 points with three rebounds.
The Eagles had two days of rest and a 12-hour bus ride to Couer ‘d Alene, Idaho where they faced the number-five team in the conference, North Idaho. CEU played the Cardinals for the second time on their home court in their last conference game losing 53–62. It was a tough loss for the Eagles; however, it did not affect their seeding of second place in the tournament.
Crowder had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Zakaharov added 12 points with five rebounds and Mills had nine points with three rebounds.
“It was difficult … Most of the players played over 40 minutes against CSI and had no legs against NI,” said athletic director Dave Paur.
On Thursday, March 3, CEU will be heading back to Twin Falls, Idaho, for the conference tournament. They will have a bye on Thursday, then play the winner of the third seed (SLCC) and sixth seed (CNCC) on Friday at 2 p.m. The winner of that game will go on to the championship game at 8 p.m. on Saturday. The games will be broadcast live on the CSI website and locally on 98.3 FM.
“It would be awesome if Colorado Northwestern beat Salt Lake Community College. But whatever happens, I don’t want [second-ranked] CSI to lose because I want another shot at them,” Barton said.