Sunday, September 20, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Bradford powers No. 1 Eagles


Paige Bradford of Kirkwood says she's lost a few pounds since the end  of last season, which is why she's playing a lot better right now.

A few pounds? Coach Kim Muhl says Bradford has shed about 20 pounds  since March.

"She's changed her body and she's a better player," Muhl said  Saturday. "That's made her quicker and confident."

Bradford hit 7 of 9 shots and scored 17 points as the top-ranked  Eagles crushed Iowa Lakes, 77-42, in an ICCAC Conference game at  Johnson Hall.

This past Wednesday, Bradford was a perfect 12 of 12 from the field  and poured in a career-best 27 points when the Eagles topped  Southeastern for Muhl's 900th victory as head coach.

Bradford is leaner, meaner and much quicker around the basket this season.

"I've lost a couple of pounds from last year, so that's given me the  confidence this year to get up and down the court," she said. "I'm  seeing the difference when I watch myself on film from last year.

"It keeps building my confidence up, to keep working hard and playing hard."

Losing 20 pounds in a few months is not easy, but Bradford took Muhl's  advice and began working on her new body during the offseason.

"We talked about lifestyle," said Muhl. "What you eat and how you  prepare. Things like that. She's a big kid."

Bradford, a 6-foot sophomore from Davenport, leads Kirkwood with 13.5  points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting a sizzling 71.6 percent from  the floor. She averaged 9.2 points and 6.0 rebounds with 56.4 accuracy  a year ago, so the numbers have climbed into All-America territory.

"That's just hard work. All summer," she said.

Bradford was too quick for Iowa Lakes around the basket with her slick  post moves. She's also jumping better and much quicker on her feet.

"And she's not traveling. She traveled a lot last year," said Muhl.  "Her self-esteem is pretty good. She's a very confident kid."

Bradford enjoyed going 12 for 12 against Southeastern on Wednesday  because of what the game meant for Muhl.

"I wanted to get him his 900th win," she said. "That's why we played  so hard. We didn't want to let him down."

When Muhl notched his 900th victory, he did not think his players knew  anything about the milestone because there was no celebration in the  locker room. "We celebrated the next day!," Bradford informed.

Kemara Watson scored 12 points Saturday for Kirkwood, which raised its  records to 11-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference. Tatiana  Hodges-Johnson had 11 points and Ju Gaston contributed 10. Addison  Rath grabbed eight rebounds in 12 minutes. Jheda Kennedy had four  assists. Delani Harris made four steals.

Bradford likes the way the Eagles are playing as the No. 1 NJCAA  Division II team in the country.

"I think we deserve it," she said of the top billing. "We've been  working hard since the first day we came in for preseason. If we keep  working hard I think we can take it all this year."

Breanna Wendland scored eight points for Iowa Lakes (9-4, 1-1).

IOWA LAKES (42): Breanna Wendland 3-9 1-4 8, Shanice Vaughn 0-0 2-4 2,  Shareece Smith 2-6 1-2 5, Bethany Rehse 2-6 1-1 6, Safiyer Coleman 1-9  5-8 7, Tejah Hayden 0-5 1-2 1, Tyler Pacheco 3-9 0-0 6, Imani Hollie  Jones 0-7 1-2 1, Destiny Broussard 2-5 1-4 5, Brianna O'Donnell 0-0  1-2 1. Totals 13-56 14-29 42.

KIRKWOOD (77): Paige Bradford 7-9 3-3 17, Tatiana Hodges-Johnson 3-7  4-4 11, Ju Gaston 2-2 4-6 10, Amara Lipsey 2-7 0-0 5, Marissa Metz 1-3  0-0 3, Delani Harris 4-8 0-0 9, Jheda Kennedy 1-4 0-0 2, Kortney Drake  0-2 2-2 2, Addison Rath 1-3 4-6 6, Natalie Tomaszewski 0-0 0-0 0,  Kemara Watson 5-6 2-2 12, Britney Smith 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 26-51 19-25  77.

Halftime - Kirkwood 39, Iowa Lakes 24. 3-point goals - Iowa Lakes 2-21  (Wendland 1-3, Rehse 1-4, Broussard 0-1, Hayden 0-2, Smith 0-2,  Pacheco 0-4, Jones 0-5), Kirkwood 6-21 (Gaston 2-2, Hodges-Johnson  1-3, Metz 1-3, Harris 1-4, Lipsey 1-5, Kennedy 0-1, Rath 0-1, Drake  0-2).


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