Eagles Men Smother Former #1 Ellsworth; Women March on in Estherville
Two games, separated by more than 250 miles—with the same solid result: Eagles Win.
The Kirkwood Men’s Basketball program put any lingering questions of solidity to rest Thursday night, dropping 3-pointers from far out like mortar rounds while dogging the formerly top-ranked Ellsworth Community College players. The final score of 90-65 felt like an even wider spread to some, as a healthy Johnson Hall crowd was joined by many more viewers watching the student production coverage via cable on The Kirkwood Channel.
A total of 13 treys set the pace, with Rashad Basey’s 20 points setting the pace. Jordan Stoermer hit 15, Bryce Brunz nailed 14 and Bryant Kucera added 13 more. Joel Barkers was working all parts of the hardwood, delivering 12 points and contributing 10 rebounds. For the game, Kirkwood shot 59 percent from the field, 48 percent from 3-point territory.
Ellsworth tried to answer the 3-point assault with their own, but only managed 6 of 18 attempts. The gold-jersey visitors were led by L.C. Doss’s 30 points, but fell off to Mike Candalaria and Tony Lewis with 10 each. Ellsworth ends the season at 27-5, with two of those rare losses coming from the Eagles.
Head Coach Doug Wagemester credited the team’s cohesive communication as a key element in the Eagles’ 25-5 record and nationals ticket. “Our (makeup) is a little different form the teams we’ve had in the past. But we’ve kind of found a style that fits us. The kids have all the confidence in the world, they share the ball and we’ve gotten good results,” Doug said.
Kirkwood now advances to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament in Danville, Ill. Their first scheduled play is Thursday, March 19 at 6:30 p.m.
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Meanwhile, across the state….
Coach Kim Muhl and the Kirkwood Women started their final quest for a return to Nationals with a blanketing of Southeastern in the Region XI tournament in Estherville. The Gazette called it a “stroll,” and the 94-34 score underlines that. The Eagles women rode a 26-2 run early on, making it 52-18 at the halftime buzzer.
Kirkwood scoring was led by El Sara Greer. The sophomore built on her recent hot performances with 14 points. Amanda de la Cruz and Alicia Wright scored 13 more apiece, Nicole Holman with 11 and Andi Waughaman with 10. An even dozen Eagles scored in the nonstop effort.
Next up for Kirkwood in the tournament is facing host team Iowa Lakes in a semifinal match at 7 p.m. Friday night. The championship game is slated for 3 p.m. Saturday.