Defense the key to victory for USU Eastern
While the tragic death of Brad Barton is still fresh on the minds of players and coaches on the USU Eastern men's basketball team, he's also very much at the heart of every player on the squad.
The former coach's push for tough and aggressive play while displaying a will to succeed, was on full display during USU Eastern's 85-31 victory over Impact Prep at the B-DAC on Tuesday night.
The team and the college honored the memory of Barton before the game by unveiling a banner on the wall of the B-DAC with Barton's photo and a phrase that perfectly described his life, "Living the Dream."
The team will also honor Barton throughout the season with patches on their jerseys over their hearts.
Head coach Brian Edelstein, who was named as the interim coach, said the team has played well despite dealing with the loss of a coach.
"It's been a difficult time for all of us," Edelstein said. "The team has done a great job going out and playing hard, leaving everything on the floor."
Impact Prep kept the game close through the first 10 minutes, but Eastern kicked up the pressure defensively and began to run away from the visitors on their way to a 45-14 halftime lead.
Eastern held Impact Prep scoreless for the final eight minutes of the first half and built up their lead at the half with a 23-0 run.
Edelstein credited the team's defense with sparking the offense by scoring 26 points off of 24 Impact Prep turnovers
"We had great defense from the start of the game," Edelstein said. "We got them (Impact Prep) to take bad shots and had them out of position because of our defensive pressure."
Eastern's Chase Flint was key in getting the Golden Eagles started early, as his play on both sides of the ball sparked the team. Flint, a freshman guard from Kaysville, plays with the same type of fire that was often seen by Barton, another Kaysville resident.
Edelstein credited Flint's play in the first minutes of the first half with getting the team on track for the win.
"Chase is a living testament to Brad Barton," Edelstein said noting Flint was trained by Barton. "Nobody wanted to win this game more than him."
Flint nearly finished the first half with a double-double as he gathered nine points and nine rebounds. He finished with 12 points and a team-high 13 rebounds.
Freshman guard Dashaun Wiggins, a native of Bronx, NY, led the Golden Eagles with 24 points.
"He's (Wiggins) been big for us so far this season," Edelstein said.
Other than Flint and Wiggins, two others scored in double figures as freshmen Matthew Marshall and Eric Hansen has 13 and 10 points respectively.
Eastern is now 6-0 on the season as they will next head to Scottsbluff, Neb., for a tournament starting Friday and continuing through Saturday.
While the team is off to a good start, Edelstein said the team is still coming together, especially with very little practice time since the season started.
"Looking good in November doesn't mean we will look just as good in January and February," he said. "We've been solid so far and the team is playing very unselfishly."
"We still have a lot of work to do including polishing the little things like our basic defense."