Golden Eagle 2020 Boys Basketball Season Review


The Golden Eagles had an extremely successful 2020-21 campaign, finishing the season with an overall record of 19-3, as well as going 14-1 in the team’s fifteen City League matchups. Despite the unfortunate end to the team’s season, it’s impossible not to realize and commend their pure dominance and tremendous crop of talent. 

Golden Eagle Head Coach Mike Domnick became head of the program back in 2015 and has had nothing but success ever since. He has proven himself to be without a doubt one of the premier coaches in not only the Wichita City League, but the entire state of Kansas. He has been able to coach up tremendous players over his tenure, with the likes of Luke Evans, Tanner Mans, Enrique Lankford and Alex Littlejohn coming to mind almost immediately. 

The one thing that sets apart this year’s group from that of years past is the sheer amount of experienced senior talent. The anchors of the team were without question the highly regarded Senior trio of Alex Littlejohn, Enrique Lankford, and Carter Reid. But looking further than these three great players, you’ll easily find the likes of key role players such as Presston Rottinghause, Stephen Nguyen, and Will Biby. These three players specifically were able to fill their roles with ease and came up with some huge and timely plays over the course of the entire 22 game season. When asked about the leadership and effect of this Senior class, Junior Michael Polley stated, “The leadership this year was amazing because the Seniors were all bought in and they wanted to win more than anything. Replacing what we had last year is very difficult because the talent this years team had and the dedication they had to basketball is hard to beat.” Fellow Junior Cole Schmidt would add, “The Seniors are my friends and that makes playing with them a lot more fun and they always pushed us to our full potential. They set examples for us to follow and they made basketball really fun.”

One of the defining storylines for this year’s team was the dominant 17 game win streak. The Golden Eagles were firing on all cylinders and were in fact performing like the cream of the crop in the 5A division. Cole Schmidt would add, “As a team, I’d say we definitely expected a successful season. Carroll basketball has gotten a lot better over the past 5 years and we wanted to keep that success going this season.” Michael Polley added, “I’d say the key to our win streak was we were all healthy and our defense really picked up as well. After our loss to East we took a step back and looked at what was going wrong and we weren’t really playing as a team, but once we started playing team ball and not forcing shots, we simply couldn’t lose.” They were able to get open looks with ease with pinpoint passing and a tremendous and aggressive defense that took pride in sucking the life out of the opponent, which would then cause the Golden Eagles to carve out a big lead for themselves early on in the team’s contests.

The Golden Eagles were firing on all cylinders heading into the playoffs, with taking down top level opponents on a weekly basis. The Golden Eagles kicked off their playoffs campaign with a Substate Championship in which they went over on the Arkansas City Bulldogs and the high powered Andover Trojans. 

The Golden Eagles were then trucking forward, full steam ahead, for their 5 star matchup against Maize, and what a game it ended up being. Both of these great teams were going back and forth throughout the first two quarters, both attempting to feel and tire each other out. Come the halftime break, the game was tied at 15 a piece with both teams putting forward playoff level performances. The Golden Eagles were then able to outscore the Maize Eagles throughout the third quarter and looked to be in prime position to knock out the eventual State Champions. 

But immediately following the pre fourth quarter intermission, Maize seemed to flip a switch, locking up on defense and somehow finding a way to keep Coach Domnick’s playmakers at bay, this was of course not a great combination when you take into account the tremendous performance from Sophomore Avery Johnson who was able to finish the night with 16 points. By the end of the night, the Golden Eagles would sadly fall to Maize by a final score of 37-33 in a crushing, closely contested loss. 

This was no doubt an extremely difficult loss for this group that seemed to have a State Championship run pulled right out from under them. You definitely have to feel for the Seniors who were able to put forth the season of their lives to have it end like that is something hard to even imagine. Polley stated, “They have worked so hard for this and to have it come short I feel for them but they left a great foundation for this program and they won’t soon be forgotten.”

Despite the way this season ended, the impact that this group of players had on this program is something that is simply unmatched. Carter Reid, Alex Littlejohn and Enrique Lankford began making an impact from the moment the stepped on the hardwood and put on a Golden Eagle uniform. They are all three former State Champions, with the aforementioned championship coming their freshman year where they all played valuable minutes. But this would only be the beginning for them considering all the other successes they would receive alongside fellow classmates Presston Rotinghause, Will Biby and Stephen Nguyen. 

A large portion of the Senior class played pivotal roles for the team throughout their four years with various talented upperclassman groups cycling in and out of the lineup, they would be one of the pivotal reasons for the building up of the program since Coach Domnick arrived just a few short seasons ago. They definitely left a lasting legacy with the Golden Eagles and perhaps one that will never be able to be matched in the future? 

Going Forward: 

With the Golden Eagles always being extremely competitive with coach Mike Domnick at the forefront of the program, losing this great group of players will definitely pose a big challenge for the young up and coming players and the rest of the coaching staff. But if there is one staff and program that could overcome that sudden lack of production, it’s the Golden Eagles. They did it prior to this year with them losing the 2020 class headlined by the likes of Tanner Mans, and there’s no doubt they will find a way to do it again. 

The Golden Eagles will be counting on a number of relatively fresh faces headed by the likes of Michael Polley and Cole Schmidt. These players will no doubt be counted on heavily as we move into next year. When asked to describe next year’s group, Polley stated, “Our team next year should be very exciting because nobody knows who we are, and we don’t really have star players. We should be a team with great chemistry and hopefully fun to watch next year.” When asked about their goals for next season, Schmidt stated, “My teammates and I want to keep Carroll basketball strong and I know we can. Our team has good chemistry and we have fun playing basketball together which is what it’s all about.”

It was nothing short of an honor to be able to cover this great team and to be with them every step of the way. I look forward to being able to watch some of the key pieces of this team continue to grow and progress their games for years to come.