Just under a year ago, the Kent City Eagles competed in a post-season matchup in which they controlled things most of the way until poor free throw shooting allowed the visiting team to overtake them in the final minute.
That team was eventual state champion Pewamo-Westphalia, and while there is no guarantee the regional win would have given Kent City the same results, they certainly are justified in wondering what could have been. This year, the Eagles welcomed Morley-Stanwood to The Nest for the teams’ third matchup of the season and the District Championship on the line.
In a scene that was very reminiscent of a season prior, the Eagles led the Mohawks all night but left an opening at the end as free throws missed the mark in large numbers.
Morley Stanwood made great strides from an earlier season showdown at The Nest when the Kent City Eagles shot the lights out and ran away with a lopsided victory. The Mohawks were not dismayed and closed the gap between the teams to 10-points in the second matchup a few weeks later and just 6-points in the district final. The game got as close as 3-points in the final few minutes of play.
The tale of the night was undoubtedly the second consecutive game where the Eagles struggled from the field.
In the district semi-final, Kent City managed to get solid looks, but continually failed to turn those chances into points. Friday night looked very similar. The Eagles were able to work the ball through their offense and get open shots, but continued their cold streak and allowed the Mohawks to stick around until the final seconds ticked away.
Both games proved Kent City can win even when its shots aren’t falling. The Eagles can win games on the defensive end when needed and that is something they will once again need to do to advance this coming Tuesday.
The Mohawks end the season 19-4 with 3 losses coming against Kent City. They graduate a host of seniors, but will also return a number of impact players for the 2020-2021 season. The conference battle between the two schools should be back in full force next season and basketball fans are sure to be in for a treat when they meet again.
The #3 ranked Kent City Eagles advance to the round of 32 to face #1 ranked and defending state champion, Pewamo-Westphalia. The matchup marks the third consecutive year the two squads will face off in a post season contest with each year coming a round earlier than the last (2018 – round of 8, 2019 – round of 16, 2020 – round of 32). The teams will meet this Tuesday at Morley Stanwood High School.
Stay tuned for our preview of the game and opinion piece on some improvements that need to be made by the MHSAA.