Friday, September 22, 2017
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King sparks No. 17 Eagles by Tritons

The five members of the Kirkwood men's basketball team who had to  serve a two-game suspension for a minor infraction earlier this month  were anxious to get rolling again Saturday.

It took 20 minutes to get fully in gear, but the 17th-ranked Eagles  eased their pain by whipping Iowa Central, 101-72, in a conference  game at Johnson Hall.

Chris King, Byron Harp, Miles Wentzien, Ethan Meeker and Elijah Henry  were suspended by the National Junior College Athletic Association for  two games for their roles in an incident against Ellsworth 10 days  ago, but they were back Saturday.

King popped in six 3-pointers, scored 26 points and dished out seven  assists as Kirkwood raised its record to 16-4 overall.

The Eagles led by only one point at halftime, 44-43, but they clamped  down on defense in the second half and quickly pulled away. Kirkwood  shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half and clobbered Iowa  Central in bench points for the game, 41-2.

The Eagles had trouble guarding Tray Croft and Prince Moss in the  first half, but the second half was an entirely different story. Croft  and Moss combined to score 56 of the visitor's 72 points, but most of  that damage occurred in the first half.

King said the difference in the second half was simple.

"Just guarding the ball with passion," he said. "The first half he  (Croft) was scoring because everybody wasn't buying in and trying to  help each other out. But the second half we really got back to what we  usually do."

The Eagles ripped the Tritons, 57-29, in the second half and led by 33 points.

Kirkwood is operating with a 10-man roster these days, so when the  five Eagles were suspended Coach Bryan Petersen added four baseball  players to the roster and steered the team to a pair of victories,  including a clutch road verdict at DMACC.

The baseball players have retired as basketball players, but it took  the regular crew some time to get back in sync. "We were wondering how  everybody was going to handle that," said Petersen.

For 20 minutes, the answer was murky.

"I wasn't very happy with the group in the first half," said Petersen.  "The sense of urgency wasn't there. I didn't think we were playing  very well together.

"It really wasn't a strategy thing. We just had to play harder and  compete for each other."

The five suspended players gathered at Johnson Hall last Saturday when  the Eagles played at DMACC, watching a live-stream broadcast of the  game to support their teammates in absentia.

"We called them right after the game. Congratulated them," said King.

They were reunited Saturday, even though it took a while to get the kinks out.

"We've been sitting out for a little bit and we haven't had our whole  team, so it was kind of like a little bit of jitters," said King. "But  the second half we started getting back to what we usually do."

Kirkwood played a lot of zone defense in the second half to stop Croft  from making so many drives to the basket. The Tritons, with a thin  bench, also appeared to get tired in the second half after four  starters played all 20 minutes in the first half.

King, a 6-foot point guard from Des Moines, drilled Iowa Central with  a series of 3-pointers, strong drives and terrific passes.

"He had another really good night, especially in the second half,"  said Petersen. "I think he really set the tone for us. If he gets it  going, he's pretty talented."

King scored his 26 points in 25 minutes after running into mild foul trouble.

"I'm just playing my game," he said. "My teammates are telling me to  shoot the ball more and be more aggressive and make plays, so that's  what I'm trying to do."

Harp pitched in 16 points for the Eagles. Kaliph Fagan sparked  Kirkwood during a key stretch in the second half and finished with 12  points. Da'Rion King contributed 10 points and eight rebounds.

Kirkwood raised its ICCAC conference record to 3-1, sticking one game  behind Southwestern in the league standings. Iowa Central fell to 8-14  overall and 0-4 in the league.

Croft finished with 30 points for Iowa Central and Moss scored 26, but  the rest of the Tritons offered only 16 points.

IOWA CENTRAL (72): Croft 9 9-10 30, Moss 9 5-7 26, Hayes 2 0-0 6, Jok  1 0-0 2, Miller 3 0-0 6, Swift 0 2-2 0, Burgart 0 0-0 0, Hawkins 0 0-0  0, Loggins 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 16-19 72.

KIRKWOOD (101): Triplett 4 0-1 8, Harp 4 6-6 16, Wentzien 2 4-4 8,  Meeker 1 0-0 2, C.King 9 2-2 26, Jackson 3 0-0 8, Fagan 4 3-3 12,  Marble 2 0-0 6, Henry 1 3-4 5, D.King 4 2-3 10. Totals 34 20-23 101.

Halftime - Kirkwood 44, Iowa Central 43. 3-point goals - Iowa Central  8 (Croft 3, Moss 3, Hayes 2), Kirkwood 13 (C.King 6, Harp 2, Jackson  2, Marble 2, Fagan 1).

 

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