Tourney Time

ThunderWolves’ Andre Martin, (4), senior guard of San Diego, Calif., and Eagles’ Kyle Vinich, (40), freshman forward of Casper, Wyo., scramble for a loose ball at half court during Saturday’s game in Armstrong. — Photo by Kinley Q. Nichols

ThunderWolves’ Andre Martin, (4), senior guard of San Diego, Calif., and Eagles’ Kyle Vinich, (40), freshman forward of Casper, Wyo., scramble for a loose ball at half court during Saturday’s game in Armstrong. — Photo by Kinley Q. Nichols

It’s at once terribly cliché and, if you’re superstitious, possibly dangerous to call the Eagle’s 2011-2012 season a Cinderella story.

But it’s tough not to notice the similarities.

For a long time now, the men’s basketball team has been the unfortunate stepchild to Chadron’s favorite son, the perennially stellar, NFL-star-producing football program. But this season, with the football program re-building, Cinderella is riding a vicious 10-2 surge straight to the royal ball.

Last weekend, in a pair of home victories that extended their current winning streak to seven, the Eagles clinched their first RMAC tournament berth since 2002.

The first win came Friday night against the 7-19 (6-14 RMAC) University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. Senior guard Chris Curtis of Tustin, Calif., led the Eagles for the third consecutive game, contributing 21 points to the 76-69 victory.

Saturday, the Eagles hosted the Colorado State University, Pueblo ThunderWolves. The ThunderWolves are responsible for one of the Eagle’s only two losses since Jan. 13, but the Colorado team had less luck in Armstrong Gymnasium as they lost a gritty defensive battle 60-56.

Sophomore guard Tim McDavid of Scottsbluff, who led the team with five assists, grabbed six defensive rebounds and made a key free throw late in the game, assessed the team’s attitude in simple terms.

“It’s really good right now,” he said of the team’s outlook on the post season, “We’re really happy.”

The Eagles play another key game against the 15-10 (13-8 RMAC) University of Nebraska, Kearney Lopers this Saturday at 8 p.m. Depending on the outcome of that game, and Colorado Mesa University’s games against Adams State College and Fort Lewis College this weekend, the Eagles might clinch a home game for the first round of the RMAC Tournament.

Head coach Brent Bargen stressed that he was hoping for a good crowd against the rival Lopers.

“The student section provides the energy,” he said, “They don’t make any baskets or get any rebounds but just the noise they create can be important.”

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