Coyotes stun Big Rapids, but fall to Fremont in districts
GRANT — It was an intriguing final week to the boys basketball season for the Reed City Coyotes.
A Class B district championship was nearly in the grasp of the Reed City Coyotes Friday night.
But the Fremont Packers nailed the key shots down the stretch and pulled out a 50-41 win over the Coyotes.
Reed City, which had stunned Big Rapids 47-40 in overtime on Wednesday, ended its season at 15-7 while Fremont advanced to the regionals at 19-6.
Jared Holmquist led Reed City with 25 points. Tyler Krim netted 19 points for Fremont.
“I give my guys a lot of credit,” said Reed City coach Jesse Kailing. “We weren’t supposed to win Wednesday night and we weren’t supposed to win tonight. But we gave them heck and just about came out of here with a win.”
“I think it was our defense,” said Fremont coach Pete Zerfas. “We turned the ball over way too much. You have to credit Reed City for that with their pressure man-to-man. And we didn’t make free throws. So the key to the whole thing was our defense getting stops and allowing us to stay in the game and slowly building a lead.”
The Coyotes were up 17-15 at halftime.
“I thought we played pretty good, we just came up short,” said Reed City senior Josh Justin. “We stuck to our game plan pretty well. They just hit some big shots.”
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half.
Reed City found it tough to penetrate inside against Reed City’s 6-foot-9 junior Lucas McKian. Trent Sims score inside at 5:30 for a 20-19 Coyote advantage. Krim hit a 3-pointer midway in the quarter for a 22-20 lead. Holmquist had a 3-point play and followed with a free throw with 2:20 to play for a 24-24 tie moments later. But McKian followed with two straight baskets and a free throw for a 29-24 lead.
Trailing 31-24, Reed City got back into it when Holmquist scored, was fouled and Fremont was called for a technical foul. Holmquist hit three straight free throws and the Packer lead was only 31-29. It stayed that way after the third quarter.
The first points of the fourth quarter were scored at 5:24 on two Holmquist free throws for a 31-31 tie. Krim followed with two free throws moments later but Justin countered with a layup for a 33-33 tie. Ryan Ansorge sank his first basket of the game, a triple at 4:20 for a three-point Packer advantage. Mike Siegel netted a triple at 3:29 and Fremont had a 39-33 lead. Siegel scored a layup off his own steal for a 41-33 lead at 2:29. He pulled off an instant replay moments later for a 43-33 advantage.
Sims hit a free throw at 1:50 and the Coyotes went to full-court pressure. McKian hit a free throw at the other end. Justin scored with 1:22 to play and it was 44-36. Stieg’s two free throws at 1:12 made it 45-38. The Packers were missing some free throws to keep it close. Holmquist’s 3-pointer at 1:00 made it 45-41. Krim, who was accurate from the charity stripe, hit two foul shots with 55 seconds to play for a 47-41 lead. With 27.2 seconds to play, Krim hit a free throw for the 50-41 edge.
“Down the stretch, we knew we had to keep the game close,” said Kailing. “We knew we had to keep it low scoring. When they hit the two big threes, that really put the dagger in. Before that, we had a chance to win the ballgame. I knew if the game stayed in the low 50 or low 40s we’d have a chance to win. We kept it at 50. We just came up a little bit short.”
“We’ve tried to get better each game,” said Zerfas. “But our defense has been what got us here.”
Three Coyotes fouled out in the fourth: Dillon Lodholtz, Dakota Saez and Sims.
Holmquist scored Reed City’s first eight points to pace his team to an 8-6 lead. Ricky Droke hit a pair of free throws for the Coyotes who trailed 11-10 after the first quarter.
Krim scored all of Fremont’s second quarter points. Saez scored off his own steal for a 15-13 Coyote lead midway in the second. Holmquist had a tip-in later in the quarter to give Reed City the two-point halftime advantage.
“The big guy wasn’t our real concern,” said Kailing, referring to McKian. “Our real concern was Krim. We knew that. He’s a great player. He hit some really tough shots tonight. If we defended these guys again, I don’t know what I’d do different. You take away the free throws we had to give them at the end, we held them into the low 40s.
“But we had some bad trips down on offense. I’m disappointed for the kids. I felt they outworked Fremont. They out-talented us tonight.”
But it was a season satisfying for Kailing in various ways, and not just with a win over Big Rapids, which had defeated the Coyotes twice during the regular season.
“One win doesn’t make your season. What I’m the most proud of is the improvement we made from game one,” Kailing said. “We were 2-4 at one time this year and we finished the season 15-7. That’s a pretty good turnaround. I can’t give enough credit to my coaching staff for doing what they do. We got things turned around this year and got the ship righted and went on a roll there. We went 9-1 and won the district game against Big Rapids.”
Against Big Rapids, Reed City trailed 37-33 with six minutes to play but evened the scored 40-40 at the end of regulation and outscored the Cards 7-0 in the extra four minutes. Reed City was up 9-8 after the first quarter, 22-20 at halftime and trailed 35-32 after the third quarter.
Holmquist scored 14 points for Reed City while Evan Stieg added 10 points. Justin Currie led Big Rapids with 11 points.
“Our 2-3 zone, we got them to shoot a lot of outside shots and they weren’t hitting from outside,” Justin said. “They had to shoot a lot from the outside and didn’t shoot a high percentage.”
It was an emotional win over Big Rapids, but Justin said the Coyotes were ready to take on Fremont.
“We did everything we worked on in practice, they just hit a lot of big shots,” Justin said. “It was more successful (of a season) than everyone expected us to do. We got better through the season.”