This archived article was written by: Tuna Sanford and Jordan Cunningham
USU Eastern’s Golden Eagles entered the Scenic West Athletic Conference conference tournament as the number-two seed. Even though Coach Brad Barton and his team were predicted to win the tournament, they lost their first game, eliminating them from play. However, many of Eastern players will move on to D-1 universities, or return to play for the Eagles for another promising year.
The Eagles lost their final game of the season to Salt Lake Community College 86-72 in the quarterfinals of the SWAC tournament. Barton said, “We had a tough game and didn’t catch many breaks.” However, several players had a good season-ending game. Maxim Zakharov led the team in with 28 points and six rebounds and played all 40 minutes. Jonathan Mills followed with 13 points and 19 rebounds. Bryant Crowder also played well scoring nine points and bringing down seven rebounds.
The Eagles faced a few obstacles that the Bruins did not have to worry about. James Kinney played the first half in a UFC sparring helmet to protect his broken jaw. Kinney said, “It was tough and hot playing in the helmet, but it was tougher playing with my jaw wired shut. It was hard to breath.” Trevor Bamgartner also played 23 minutes with an injured foot. With both starting guards injured, the team had a rough time running offense. “It’s tough to win games when both starting guards are not 100 percent,” said Barton.
On a more positive note, Mills signed with Chicago State University and received first team all-conference. Trevor Bamgartner and James Kinney received second team all-conference. Kinney also has several D- I offers. “I have a few schools talking to me, but still haven’t taken any official visits or signed with anyone.” Brady Hurst and Maxim Zakharov both received honorable mentions. Hurst was offered a full-ride scholarship to BYU Hawaii, along with Cameron Evans. Hurst said “I don’t really care that it is a D-2 school … it feels right and I’ll be in Hawaii for two years.” Aaron Hawk Harris signed with Northern Colorado University, where he will play for former CEU Head Coach Chris Craig. Bryant Crowder has signed with Southern Mississippi University.
Coach Barton looks forward to hopefully having another successful year with a few new faces on the team and a couple returning athletes. He said, “It will be tough to replace the four solid bigs we are losing, but both Neveij Walters and Maxim Zakharov are returning and they are both first-class athletes.”
Chase Flint is also returning after he attended in 2008-2009. Flint returns as a freshman because he was a medical redshirt with a broken elbow his first year, Coach Barton said, “Chase is a hard worker and one of the best people I know.”
Overall the Golden Eagles had a successful season going 23-8. He said, “Overall our guys played well and I’m definitely proud of how they played and the season we had.” With it being coach Barton’s first season as a collegiate head coach, his results were well above expectations as the Eagles finished 10-5 with the second-best record in the conference.
The SWAC boasts the two first place NJCAA winners: CSI for the men and North Idaho for the women.