Coyote boys head into holiday break at 3-0

REED CITY — A scheduled Central State Activities Association showdown last Friday at Newaygo for Reed City was postponed because of the weather and rescheduled for Jan. 15.

That means the Coyotes go into the holiday break at 3-0. They have various practices scheduled the next two weeks and scrimmage at Pine River on Dec. 31.

They come back with a huge CSAA game at home Jan. 7 with Lakeview, which also has not yet lost a game.

“That will be a big game,” said Reed City coach Dean McGuire. “That will be a big test for us. We lost to them twice last year.”

Most coaches would be more than satisfied with a 22-point victory.

However, McGuire can always find something for his team to improve on, even after he coached the Coyotes to a 62-40 win over Holton on Tuesday night.

“We did a horrible job (taking care of the ball),” McGuire said. “I think we had 22 turnovers, which is unacceptable. I don’t know how many shots we missed...within three feet in the first half. It had to be at least eight.”

Watching the first half, you wouldn’t expect this one to end in a blowout. The first quarter went back-and-forth as Reed City (3-0, 2-0 CSAA) and Holton traded baskets early on. Reed City was able to muster a 10-8 lead with two minutes in the opening stanza and would later bump that lead up to five points after an Eric Grannis triple with just 30 seconds left in the quarter.

The Red Devils got a couple of free throws before the buzzer to head into the second quarter down three points.

The second quarter was another close one with the Coyotes holding on to a slim lead until Aaron Poling cashed in a three to tie things up at 17-17 with six minutes left in the half. Dean Eichenberg answered with a Coyote trey followed by a steal and a layup to give Reed City a 24-18 lead.

From there the Coyotes turned up the defensive intensity. Their full-court smothering, in-your-face defense produced a ton of steals and easy buckets all night. Holton’s Corey Sokolowski and Poling would break the Red Devil scoring drought with a couple buckets as the half closed at 28-24 in favor of Reed City.

McGuire wasn’t impressed by his offense in the first half, pointing at a number of things the Coyotes can improve on.

“I think what happens is one kid misses and the next kid misses and then they start thinking too much instead of just playing basketball,” McGuire said. “We had a tough time putting the ball in the hole in the first half.”

Whatever that problem was, the Coyotes solved it in the second half. Kyle Wright came up huge again for Reed City, dominating around the bucket. The Coyotes jumped out to a 34-26 lead a couple minutes into the third and would push that lead to 10 as the game went on. The Coyotes dangerous defense created scoring chances which lead to a 47-31 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Coyotes outscored the Red Devils 19-7 in the quarter.

Both offenses stalled to start the final quarter until Holton went on a 7-0 run starting at the 6:30 mark. The Red Devils brought the deficit back to nine, but Wright showed up once again for Reed City and scored six straight to push the lead back to 15. With just two players on the bench, the Red Devils were noticeably gassed as the game went on, allowing the Coyotes to go to their bench with 1:20 left and a 19-point lead. Josh Saez got an old-fashioned 3-point play to finish things up at 62-40.

“We didn’t push the ball very effectively until the second half,” McGuire said. “I give our kids credit, they never folded and never quit.”

The Coyotes were paced by another monster game from Wright who ended the night with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Eichenberg added 11 with a 3-pointer and Saez scored 10.

Holton was led by Sokolowski’s 16 points.

Herald-Review sports writer John Raffel contributed to this report.