Big Rapids girls hold back Reed City for league victory

BIG RAPIDS — It was a preview of this week's district first-round game in Reed City.

But as previews go it was Big Rapids' night with a 50-33 Central State Activities Association Gold Division girls basketball win over Reed City on Feb. 21.

Big Rapids won at Reed City 50-36 earlier this season. Big Rapids had already clinched outright the Central State Activities Association Gold Division for the third straight season

Reed City got out to a cold-shooting start, enabling Big Rapids (14-4, 11-1) to gain the early lead over the Coyotes (10-9, 7-6).

“It's always a battle," Big Rapids coach Jessica Haist said. "Reed City is always well prepared and has our number. Tonight wasn't any different. You get used to playing kids and you pick up the same tendencies. They were ready to play. Anytime we can come out with a W, we're happy on our end."

Aliza Hengesbach scored off a steal and it was 15-8, Big Rapids, after the first quarter. Hengesbach hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter and the Cardinals enjoyed a 23-16 lead at halftime.

Alanna Nelson and Emily Libey scored early in the third as Reed City cut it to 23-21.

Libey scored again to keep Reed City close. Kaitlyn Ray hit a pair of baskets for the Cardinals early in the fourth for a 36-29 lead.

Libey's baseliner put the Cardinal lead to 37-31 at 3:12. Hengesbach again scored off her own steal for a 39-31 lead at 2:40. Grace White scored at 2:02 for a 41-31 lead. Jayla Strickland scored inside for a 43-31 edge at 1:30. Hengesbach's 3-pointer late in the game sealed the win.                                                     

Big Rapids shot 11-of-20 in free throws while Reed City was 1-of-3.

"They outrebounded us and I've been preaching all year long that if you're going to stay in the game, you have to do a goob job of boxing out," Reed City coach Brian Koopman said. "We didn't do a good job of boxing Grace (White) out and definitely didn't do a good job of boxing out Jayla Strickland. She had 17 points and probably about as many rebounds."

Strickland scored 17 points, while White scored 12 and Hengesbach had 11. Libey scored 13 for Reed City and Kamryn Myers added eight.

"With a little over three minutes to go we're down by five and still in the game," Koopman said. “I didn't think we played particularly well. They're a good team. they're well balanced. We'll have to do some little things and hopefully it will work for districts."

Both teams ended their regular season on Friday in CSAA Gold action. 

“I've told the kids all-year long we're a scrappy little team and we have to do the little things right like box out and do things, but we didn't do them tonight," Koopman said.

Big Rapids defeated the Coyotes on Monday in a Class B first-round district game (see related story).

"It's a good rivalry but that's not how you'd like to see two conference rivals match up, in the first game, because you'd like to see the conference do well," Haist said. "I'd like to see us get up and go, transition, a little quicker. I'd like to see us pick up the pace a little bit. On the boards, I thought we were better this game."

Central Montcalm 46, Reed City 36

REED CITY — Myers scored 11 points and Libey added eight for Reed City (10-10, 8-6) in this regular-season finale on Friday

“I credit my kids for playing tough defense,” Koopman said. “We didn't give up and battled through.”

Koopman said Alyssa Olds was lost for the season with a probable ACL injury.