Eagles struggle on homefront, remain hopeful

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Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 - 12:00am

The College of Eastern Utah Golden Eagles finished the previuos two weekends at home with a 1 and 3 record.

On the weekend of February 9, they battled the Salt Lake Community College Bruins, and came out with the same results as the teams previous meetings in Salt Lake City, losing the first game and winning the second.  Then on the weekend of February 16, the Eagles hosted Snow College and suffered two disappointing losses to the Badgers.

SLCC has a deep and talented roster, and it showed as the Bruins had six players score in double figures on February 9, led by Gary Wilkinson, AKA O'Doyle, with 19. Wilkinson also led the game with 12 rebounds.

For the Eagles it was Tyler Kepkay pouring in his usual 30 points followed by Jeremy Lathan with 20. Kepkay also led the team with six rebounds, while Lathan and Tony Dalton had five and four assists respectively.  

Dalton, making his first start of the season due to injured Steve Hassell, made the most of his scoring 12 points to go along with his assists. The Bruins were dominant in the first half, while the Eagles gained some confidence in the second half that carried over to help the Eagles win the next night, February 10.  

On that Saturday night the Eagles played a complete game that made it possible for them to win 83-79. Kepkay led the team yet again with 33 points, while Anthony Oliver had a complete game scoring 20 points to go along with six rebounds, five assists and one blocked shot.  

Four Eagles had six or more rebounds led by Felix Casperi's nine, which was definitely the difference maker as the Bruins out rebounded the Eagles 38 to 29 on Friday while the Eagles led SLCC in rebounding 44 to 38 in their Saturday victory.  

It should be mentioned that the officials did a stellar job of watching the obsessant fouls on the ball committed by the SLCC Bruins which for the first time all year, showed a respect for the penetrating abilities of the Eagles.

Tyler Kepkay shot 17 free-throws during the Saturday night victory, and you could almost see University of Utah's  Ray  Giacoletti salivating due to Kepkay's polished abilities.  

Tony Dalton was instrumental down the stretch connecting with many free-throws to keep the Eagles in the driver's seat.

CEU then hosted the Snow Badgers, falling short in both games. On Friday, February 16, the Eagles had control throughout the game, but fell short due to a relentless push toward victory by the Badgers.  

Again it was a tale of two halves as the Badgers dominated the second half of the game to eventually win. Anthony Oliver continued his hard play and led the team with 26 points and also grabbed five rebounds.  

The poor play in the second half carried over to the following night when the Eagles were outscored 41 to 28 in the first half by the Badgers.  

It seemed hopeless but the Eagles had some breath left in them and went on a huge run in the second half led by Dalton's four three-pointers.   He showed great poise for a freshman bouncing back from the previous night when he was zero for eight from the field.  

Kepkay played superb basketball leading the team with 31 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. But it was Geoff Payne who stole the show scoring 40 points on 13 of 16 shooting and hauling in 12 rebounds.  

Eric Dearden's energy and passion on both the offensive end and the defensive end gave the Eagles a chance to win in regulation, but with a few questionable calls, the Eagles lost by one in overtime.

With a couple disappointing losses, where will the Eagles go from here? Last time CEU lost both games to Snow they travelled to North Idaho College and won two.

Will the Eagles take both against the Cardinals this weekend? It all depends on the effort the Eagles put in. They must go out and take the victory because no team will just give it to them.

The Eagles have shown signs of greatness, and all they need do is put together complete games. Coach Bryan Zollinger encourages the team to keep fighting and did so by sharing the words of Sir Winston Churchill.

Although not the exact quote given by Coach Z, Churchill said on 29 October 1941 to the boys at Harrow School, " Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.

"Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.'' The College of Eastern Utah men's basketball team has what it takes to do great things.   Now it is up to them to do it.

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