Reed City edges out Big Rapids in conference rivalry matchup

BIG RAPIDS — The Big Rapids Cardinals and the Reed City Coyotes boys basketball teams lived up to the hype on Wednesday night in a thrilling rivalry matchup. The Coyotes (12-2, 11-2 CSAA) beat the hosting Cardinals (11-3, 10-3 CSAA), but it wasn’t easy. Both sides came out firing, but the Coyotes were able to knock down shots in the early going. Reed City pushed out to a 7-2 lead on an old-fashioned three-point play from Kyle Wright as the Cardinals racked up five fouls in the first three minutes of play. Quinn Tyson hit a jumper to give Big Rapids its first points since its first possession. The atmosphere was electric as both student sections fed off each other and the game as the night went on. The Cardinals continued to pile on the fouls, sending Reed City into the bonus around the 3:30 mark, which, according to Big Rapids coach Kent Ingles, was a major factor throughout the game. “I feel like I went to a basketball game and a free throw contest broke out,” Ingles said. “Demetri (Martin) and (D’Angelo Williams) inside, our fours and our fives, played collectively about 12 minutes (Wednesday)...They hit their free throws and we hit our free throws, but they shot around 31 and we shot about 14.” The intensity was there for both sides, but the Coyotes had the upper hand at the end of the first quarter with a 16-11 lead. The Cardinals put the Coyotes on their heels to start the second, making it 18-17 after a Tyson triple. Dean Eichenberg answered with a trey for the Coyotes to start off a long stretch of alternating baskets. With 2:15 left in the opening half Reed City pushed the lead to sixpoints on two free throws from Chad Samuels, but the Cards added another bucket to head into halftime down 34-30, after outscoring the Coyotes 19-18 in the frame. The second half started with a 3-pointer from Matt Brejcha to give the Cards a one-point lead. The lead didn’t last long, however, as Derek Lodholtz dialed up a trey of his own to keep the advantage. The Coyotes were able to keep the deficit around six points and pushed the lead to eight on a layup from Josh Saez. This time the Coyotes met foul trouble as Saez was whistled for his fourth foul of the game, giving Austin Hayes a shot at an and-one free throw after making a layup. “(The referees) called it tight. When you play a big rivalry game, if you don’t call it tight it might get out of control,” Reed City coach Dean McGuire said. “They called it tight both ways. We were in foul trouble and (Big Rapids was) in foul trouble.” The Cards capitalized on the fouls, knocking down free throws as the quarter went on, and Tyson hit a layup as time expired to tie it up at 42-42 going into the fourth quarter. Tyson knocked down another trey to open the quarter which Lodholtz quickly answered with a Coyote layup. Both sides traded buckets, but the Cardinals got the upper hand as Austin Hayes was fouled as he swished a three from the corner. He missed the free throw, but the Cards had the momentum. The Coyotes battled back on a 3-pointer from Josh Saez and a layup from Samuels to make it 52-51 with the Cardinals clinging on to a one-point edge. PJ Jones kept the Coyotes rolling with another triple to give Reed City a two-point lead with less than three minutes to play, bringing the crowd to a nearly deafening roar in a game that was so physical that the referees made players shake hands after especially intense altercations. Big Rapids was forced to foul down the stretch and the Coyotes knocked down free throws, but with a four-point advantage, Samuels tripped down the court giving Tyson a wide open trey to make it a one-point game. The Cardinals fouled Eichenberg on the next inbound, and he only made one free throw to make it 59-57 with 18 seconds left in the game. Coming out of a timeout the Cards looked to Tyson once again who got a solid shot at a 3-pointer, but came up just short. Lodholtz corralled the rebound for the Coyotes and missed the free throw after a Big Rapids foul, but there wasn’t enough time left as Jake Hayes heaved up a half-courter for the Cards that was off the mark, giving the Coyotes a 59-57 victory. “We missed some puppies,” Ingles said. “We missed some easy ones and you can’t do that in a close ball game. So that’s the first of three (games with Reed City).” Tyson led the way for Big Rapids with 28 points, including four 3-pointers and a perfect eight-for-eight from the charity stripe. Austin Hayes added eight points and Matt Brejcha chipped in seven in the loss. “Any time you come out of Big Rapids with a W its a huge win,” McGuire said. “That was probably one of the best high school basketball games I’ve ever been a part of. The atmosphere was great, the crowd was great and Big Rapids was great. It was top notch all the way around...Free throws (Wednesday) were huge for us. “ The Coyotes had five scorers in double digits as Samuels put up 16, Wright had 13, Lodholtz added 11 and Saez and Eichenberg both contributed 10. Both squads return to action on Friday night as Reed City hosts Hesperia and Big Rapids heads to Holton. REED CITY 59, BIG RAPIDS 57 BR 11 19 12 15 - 57 RC 16 18 08 17 - 59 BIG RAPIDS (11-3, 10-3 CSAA) Jake Hayes 1(1) 5, D’Angelo Williams 2-2 2, Kyle Brady 1 2, Eric Boyd 1 2, Demetri Martin 1 1-1 3, Quinn Tyson 4(4) 8-8 28, Austin Hayes 2(1) 1-1 8, Matt Brejcha 1(1) 2-2 7 REED CITY (12-2, 11-2 CSAA) PJ Jones 0(1) 3, Josh Saez 2(1) 3-4 10, Derek Lodholtz 2(1) 4-5 11, Chad Samuels 2 12-15 16, Kyle Wright 6 1-3 13, Dean Eichenberg 2(1) 3-4 10