As the college basketball season draws to an end, the College of Eastern Utah hosted the last of their home games this past weekend. Team supporters thanked the men's team for a great season through applause and support as the team hosted Snow College on Friday and Dixie College on Saturday.
The opening game of the weekend found the Eagles struggling to take control of the hardwood floor. Snow College jumped out ahead of the Eagles early on, and unfortunately for the Eagles, the Snow College Badgers held on to the lead to win 96-77.
The Eagles struggled from both ends of the court Friday night. CEU is currently ranked in second place in the Scenic West Athletic Conference in three point field goal percentage with a 38 percent average. The team struggled however from the long distance line and finished the game with only a 30 percent three point field goal completion, with 6-20 shots completed against the Badgers who shot 40 percent from the three point line.
The Eagles also gave up several rebounds, with the Badgers completing 36 and the Eagles only posting 25. The free throw line also troubled the Eagles with 23-36 completions for a 63 percent average compared to the Badgers 76 percent free throw average for Friday nights game.
Despite the teams struggles, several players competed exceptionally well for the Eagles. Leading scorer for the team was Skyler Wilson who finished with 14 points. Wilson also completed 2-4 three point shots, while handing out two assists, pulling down two rebounds, and completing 4-4 free throw shots. Following in scoring was Terrence Wiggins and Antoine Reynolds who each had 13 points.
Top rebounders for the Eagles were Valentino Richardson and Mindaugas Katelynas, who each pulled down four rebounds a piece.
Patrick Stinnett also played quite well for the Eagles. Stinnett finished with five points, six assists, four steals, three rebounds, and 2-6 three point shots completed.
After struggling to make things happen against the Badgers, the Eagles hosted the fourth ranked team in the national junior college polls, Dixie State from St. George. Despite the nationally ranked standings, the Eagles were not intimidated. In fact, the CEU team did not back down from the Rebels, even though the Eagles found themselves behind throughout the game.
Dixie jumped out strong dominating the Eagles in the first three minutes of the game and leading the home team by 10 points early on. The Eagles did not waiver however with teammates yelling encouraging words to one another throughout the game.
With four and a half minutes left in the ballgame, the Eagles found themselves trailing by only three points. The next four minutes however found the Rebels regaining control and putting the ballgame at rest with a victory 93-83 over the hosting Eagles team.
Although the Eagles finished on the losing end of the score board Saturday night, the team walked away proud knowing that they played hard and gave the Rebels a run for their money. The Eagles were not intimidated by the big record and several media cameras that surrounded the court which accompanied the visiting Dixie team. In fact, these factors just might have contributed to the Eagles determination and well fought battle on their home court.
Despite losing, the Eagles did lead the Rebels in several different categories. One of which was the three point field goal average for the game. The Eagles finished with 38 percent three point field goals made compared to the Rebels 31 percent.
The Eagles also stayed near the Rebels free throw and field goal percentages. The Eagles shot 46 percent from the field while the Rebels shot 49 percent, and the Eagles also shot 68 percent from the free line, as did the Rebels.
One leading factor in the Eagles defeat was rebounds. The Rebels out rebounded the Eagles 37-26, many of these rebounds lead to Rebel baskets and Eagles woes.
The Eagles were lead by Wilson once again in scoring. Wilson, who has stepped forward for the Eagles in the second half of the season finished with 22 points, while completing 4-8 three point shots.
Wilson has been a dominating force for the Eagles throughout the season, most of which has been noticed in the past several weeks. Currently, Wilson is ranked fifth in the SWAC in three point field goals made, with an average of 2.35 completed per game, and 54 total three pointer made thus far this season. Wilson will be greatly missed by the Eagles ball club, now that he has completed his two year term at CEU.
Matt Thomas however will return next year and will be a dominating force for the Eagles. Thomas scored 12 points Saturday night against the Rebels while encouraging teammates to "don't give up! Don't let them come in here and beat us up," yelled Thomas while inbounding the ball from the sideline.
Besides cheerleader, Thomas is also an excellent ball handler who seems to deliver everytime to teammates awaiting the ball underneath the basket.
The back to back losses brings the Eagles to 7-8 in SWAC games, and 17-10 overall this season, with a 65 percent winning record.
Even though this past weekend was not a victorious one for the Eagles, it was a memorable one. Several players competed for the last time on their home court. With the season drawing to an end, so are the careers of several players at CEU. However most of these players will move on to play else where, they will not play again in front of a BDAC crowd dressed in an Eagles uniform.
Players who will be moving on to new teams next year after the completion of the college school year, were thanked by both head coach Bryan Zollinger and assistant coach Keith Berard, along with the entire BDAC crowd for an excellent season filled with many memories.
Sophmores who will not return next season include Renaldo Knowles, Nick Whiting, Valentino Richardson, Antoine Reynolds, Skyler Wilson, Josh Hatch, and Clint Pitchforth.
Thanks to all Eagle teammates and coaches for making this season an exciting one to watch and to report on. Best of luck throughout the remainder of the season and in all future endeavors.
Although this weekend found the Eagles saying good-bye to the home crowd for the season, and also to several star players, the team will be on the road this weekend with back to back games Friday and Saturday.
The team will start off by traveling to Oregon on Friday to face the Treasure Valley Chuckers. The following day, the team will be in Twin Falls to take on the Southern Idaho Golden Eagles.