Coyotes falls to Big Rapids in district finals

BIG RAPIDS — Reed City was bidding for its second straight Class B boys basketball district title Friday at Big Rapids.

But when the Coyotes needed some points, the ball didn’t go through the hoop at critical times in a 55-44 loss to the Cardinals.

The season ends for Reed City (13-9), while Big Rapids (20-2) advanced to the Class B regional at Cadillac.

Big Rapids won the two regular season games, 55-53, at Reed City, and 62-52 at home, and took the Central State Activities Association Gold Division title.

“I told our kids, there’s a reason why March Madness is called March Madness,” Reed City coach Dean McGuire said. “You always get teams upsetting teams. When the ball goes in the basket, you look awfully good. When we played Big Rapids in the districts last year, we had some shots that went down and they had some open looks that didn’t go down. That was the difference in that game.”

Last year, Reed City had lost both regular season games to Big Rapids, but defeated the Cardinals in the districts and won the title.

“We knew they’d play hard and we tried to match their emotion at the beginning of the game,” Big Rapids coach Kent Ingles said. “We got off to a good start. I was worried about the third quarter because I knew they would come out, because they always do. We met their emotion in both the first and second half, and that made a difference.

“That’s one heckuva team on the other side,” McGuire said. “Big Rapids is extremely talented and very long. They affected our shots.”

Davenport led the Cardinals with 19 points while Demetri Martin added 15 and Christian Hector netted nine.

“There’s a few offensive possessions I’d love to have back because we didn’t execute very well,” McGuire said. “We took some threes we should not have taken. I thought we did a nice job of getting to the basket, but we  have to finish those. If you don’t finish them, it makes for a 44-point night.”

Davenport was hot in the early going, and gave Big Rapids a 7-2 lead on a 3-pointer. The Coyote offense struggled and Kenny Davis’ jumper made it 11-2 with 2:16 left in the quarter. Big Rapids had a 9-0 run before Reed City would score again, and was up 13-4 going into the second quarter.

Mykel Dillard netted two 3-pointers early in the second, to cut the Cardinal lead to 17-12. Martin’s 3-pointer made it 22-14 midway in the second. Schuyler Smith’s steal and slam dunk for the Coyotes at 2:20 cut the lead to 26-18.

Hector’s putback gave the Cardinals a 30-20 halftime advantage.

Both teams picked up the tempo in the third quarter. Ryan Mackall passed underneath to Davenport for a layup and 38-26 Cardinal lead midway in the third. Davenport drove for a layup late in the quarter to spark Big Rapids to a 40-27 lead going into the final eight minutes.

The Coyotes applied full-court defensive pressure to open the fourth and had a 5-0 run. But Hector’s fast-break layup gave the Cardinals a 44-33 lead at 5:03.

Davenport had another drive for a layup and 48-36 lead with 2:46 to play. Schuyler Smith followed with two free throws to keep the Coyotes alive. The teams traded baskets but time started running out on Reed City.

“I thought we had some good looks and that ball seemed like it never went into the basket for us tonight,” McGuire said.

The Coyotes couldn’t connect on five shots on one possession, and Hector’s two free throws with 1:02 to play gave Big Rapids a comfortable 52-42 lead.

Dillard led the Coyotes with 17 points, followed by Smith with nine.

“On the flip side, holding Big Rapids to 55, I told the kids don’t be surprised if they run through regionals and score more than that,” McGuire said.