Reed City hits the boards to take down rival Big Rapids

REED CITY — Thursday’s meeting between Reed City and Big Rapids was a matchup between two girls basketball teams heading in opposite directions. A surging Coyotes team came into Thursday’s Central State Activities Association (CSAA) contest with a four-game winning streak while the rival Cardinals came in having dropped their last four games. The two teams continued on their opposite paths Thursday night as the Coyotes came away with a 44-29 victory to push their winning streak to five and hand Big Rapids its fifth consecutive loss. For the Coyotes, Reed City coach Brian Koopman said after his squad suffered a loss to Lakeview in its first game back from the holiday break, the Coyotes refocused their efforts on playing hard and hitting the glass and its translated to five straight victories. “Our last five games since we lost to Lakeview, we talked about how we had to work harder,” he said. “Offensively, we seem to struggle a little but defensively, that’s where we hang our hat. We’ve really focused on rebounding and taking care of the ball and I think those two things have been huge for us,” he added. The Coyotes held a big advantage on the boards by outrebounding theCardinals 42-26 and Reed City piled up 20 steals on the night, which combined with the Cardinals’ inability to put the ball in the basket made it a long night for Big Rapids. “Reed City’s always a physical team and we were physical up until the end,” Big Rapids coach Jessica Haist said. “I feel like the girls left it all on the floor (Thursday), but we just can’t buy a basket right now.” Big Rapids also couldn’t take advantage of its opportunities at the free throw line, as the Cardinals went 9-of-23 from the charity stripe while Reed City converted on 3-of-6 of its attempts. “I was surprised we went to the line 23 times,” Haist said. “But you then look at the fact that we went 9-of-23 at the line and that’s just not acceptable, especially in a game that might have been closer if we had knocked some shots down.” Things started out slow for both teams in the first quarter with the Coyotes pulling out to an 8-4 lead following a mid-range jumper from Natalie Westhoff with 1:31 to play. The score stood the rest of the quarter to send Reed City into the second with a four-point lead. The Cardinals got some momentum going by scoring four of the first six points in the second quarter to trim the Reed City lead to 10-8 with under six minutes to play before the half, but the Coyotes responded with a 3-pointer and two free throws from Makenzie Switzer and a putback from Karah Hensel to cap off a 7-2 run to push their lead to 17-10 with 3:40 to play in the quarter. The Coyotes closed out the half with a 4-2 run to take a 21-12 lead into the halftime break. With momentum on their side, the Coyotes came out firing in the third by ripping off a 7-3 run to take a 28-15 lead with three minutes to go in the quarter after a layup by Alaina Woodard. “We came out of halftime and we said we have a two-minute run to open this thing up because if we give them life, they’re going to get back in this game,” Koopman said. “Right away, we turned the ball over a couple times but then we got some steals and some layups and opened it up a little bit.” The Cardinals continued to struggle to put up points as they only scored a total of five points in the quarter as the Coyotes took a 32-17 lead into the fourth. Reed City kept the pressure on to start the fourth with the Coyotes opening the quarter with a 7-0 run to push their lead to 39-17 following a trey from Woodard with 6:30 to play. Big Rapids wouldn’t go quietly, though, as the Cardinals responded with a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 39-26 with 2:45 to play following a layup by Aliza Hengesbach, but that was as close as the Cardinals would get as they could only score three more points the rest of the way to give the Coyotes the 44-29 victory. The Cardinals (3-10, 3-8 CSAA) return to action Monday to host Hesperia while the Coyotes (7-5, 7-3 CSAA) will head to Morley Stanwood on Monday. REED CITY 44, BIG RAPIDS 29 BR 04 08 05 12 - 29 RC 08 13 11 12 - 44 Reed City (7-5, 7-3 CSAA) Hanna Price 2 0-0 4, Jacolyn Mullins 1 0-0 2, Natalie Westhoff 4 1-3 9, Alaina Woodard 2(1) 0-0 7, Makenzie Switzer 1(2) 2-2 10, Kayla Davis 2 0-0 4, Karah Hensel 4 0-0 8 Big Rapids (3-10, 3-8 CSAA) McKenzie Gilbert 0 1-2 1, Aliza Hengesbach 2 1-6 5, Reba Bowen 0 1-2 1, Ashley Seath 0 2-4 2, Chloe Kinnally 0(1) 3, Alexis Lyman 1(1) 0-0 5, Kailey Hunt 1 4-9 6, Alexis Pylman 3 0-0 6