New gym, new team
While most students were lounging at home enjoying the semester break, the Golden Eagles were hard at work. Committed to making this season a success, the men endured freezing cold workouts and pushed on. The games mean more now that USU Eastern entered the heart of region play with every game deciding their fate.
Over winter break the men traveled to Mesa, Ari., to play in the Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout. Competing with some of the top JCO teams in the country, the team managed to break even with a record of 2-2.
The first game of the tournament wasn’t one of the men’s best as Mesa Community College outscored the Eagles 71 to 45. Even with the 26-point loss, Miles Gatewood managed to score 13 points and grabbed five rebounds. Also contributing was Dytanya “Bubby” Johnson with eight points and adding five rebounds.
Turning things around the next day, the Eagles faced off against Williston State and proceeded to put up 65 points while keeping Williston to 55. Three players broke double digits and helped push the team to the win. Gatewood led the scoring with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists. Adding to this was Jason Timpf with 12 points and nine rebounds, putting up double digits in two categories was Johnson with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Squaring off with previously second ranked in the NJCAA, Howard College proved to be too much for the team as they suffered a 34-point loss. Howard shot 55 percent from the field while the men only managed to make 30 percent. Even with the low shooting percentage, Gatewood managed to score 18 points. Howard did suffer a loss to SLCC, who was previously ranked 24 in the NJCAA polls.
Coach Carter Roe discussed the team’s performance at Mesa, “This was a good tournament for us to knock some rust off. Our defense was exceptional, although we do still need to work on our shooting percentage which I think we can fix with working hard at practice.”
Getting somewhat of a home game, the men traveled to Emery High School to play Western Wyoming while the BDAC was being painted. Coming out strong, Jeff Perkins scored 28 points, smothering Western Wyoming the first week of January and ending the game with a big win, the final score came out 75 to 63.
After a few days off, the men traveled to Colorado Northwestern Community College to gain a win over the Spartans 65 to 62. Gatewood showed his skill in this game putting 21 points on the board and contributing four rebounds and assists to his stats. Johnson pulled off another double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
With a big region game against one of the best teams in the SWAC, SLCC traveled to Price to show their talent last weekend. With the fans decked out in black and showing their support, the players were amped up. The game went back and forth in the first half with the momentum swinging both ways. Coming back out after halftime, the Bruins figured something out to outscore the Eagles 42 to 26 in the second half, ending the game at 75-57 with the win going to SLCC.
Commenting about the team, Gatewood stated, “I feel like we have come a long way as a team, but we have some things we need to work on as a unit. We have improved our defense big time day in and day out with many hard practices and drills to improve it, but now we need to work on being consistent on scoring. We score every game, but we are not consistent as a group; we also need to play a full game, not just 30 minutes. Those are the little things that are killing us, and that we are pushing to improve.’’
With another region game two days after losing to SLCC the men battled against Snow College. The game was extremely close with leads changing constantly. The Badgers managed to come out on top when the Eagles missed a last second shot to tie the game. Perkins led the scoring with 10 points while Timpf grabbed 12 rebounds for the team.
Roe, about the game against Snow and the team, said, “The team showed some resolve against Snow. Our defense was good and if we shoot over 50 percent from the free throw line then we win that game.
“As of now, I think we were fortunate to get a big win against CSI and would like to do that again on the road [this weekend]. Right now we are a little banged up with Vitor Machado out for the week with a shoulder injury, but I am optimistic about these next few weeks.”
About scoring Roe stated, “Miles is our guy. He has had his ups and downs, but we believe in him and his ability to lead the scoring.”
The Golden Eagles are on the road this weekend, playing NIC Jan. 17, and then head to CSI on Jan. 19 to try and capture two more region wins.
Their next home game is Saturday, Jan. 26, against CNCC at 5 p.m.