Coyotes take first season victory over Big Rapids

BIG RAPIDS — Like any battle between rivals, you can toss out the records and past outcomes when Big Rapids and Reed City get together in any sport.

That didn’t change Monday night as the Coyotes fought off rally after rally by the Cardinals to come out with a 62-55 victory as both teams opened Central State Activities Association (CSAA) play.

The Coyotes (1-3, 1-0 CSAA) took a 31-23 lead into the half, but the Cardinals (0-2, 0-1 CSAA) fought back to knot the score at 40-40 at the end of the third quarter before Reed City pulled away with a 22-15 scoring run in the fourth to secure the victory.

“I give my kids credit because we got up by eight or so a couple times in the first half and (Big Rapids) rallied back,” Reed City coach Brian Koopman said. “We got up by eight or so again in the second half and they rallied back and it got to 47-47 and I got a little scared.

“It’s the third game of the year and we’re still figuring each other out,” he continued. “Kids are starting to step up and play and we’re starting to get a little more mentally tough and we’re starting to get our legs underneath us.”

After struggling in a 74-33 loss to McBain last week to open the season, Big Rapids coach Dawn Thompson said she saw a much improved Cardinal team out on the floor on Monday.

“I thought our kids played much better (Monday),” she said. “We just didn’t do a very good job on the boards. (Reed City) got a lot of second-chance opportunities and we really didn’t.”

The Coyotes and Cardinals kept things close in the first quarter as the Cardinals held a 13-12 lead after a field goal by Reed City’s Karah Hensel cut the BRHS lead to one. The Cardinals responded with a three-pointer by Alexis Lyman at the end of the quarter to take a 16-12 lead after one quarter.

Reed City responded with a 17-7 scoring run in the second quarter that was capped off by Lauren Voelker, who after making her first free-throw attempt, missed the second but grabbed the rebound and put it back for a layup to send the Coyotes into the half with a 29-23 lead.

Reed City pushed its lead to 34-23 earlier in the third quarter, but the Cardinals fought back with a 9-2 scoring run that was capped off by a layup from Big Rapids’ Kailey Hunt to trim the Reed City lead to 36-32 with 1:51 left in the quarter.

Big Rapids continued to rally as they outscored the Coyotes 8-4 the rest of the quarter and knotted the score at 40-40 after three when Lyman nailed a three before the end of the quarter.

Reed City came back to take a 45-42 lead early in the fourth after Hensel made one of two free throws, but the Cardinals went on a 5-0 run to take a 47-45 lead after two free throws from Lyman.

With the score at 47-47, Reed City finally put the Bulldogs away in the final minutes with a 15-8 scoring run to secure the 62-55 victory.

The Coyotes had 45 rebounds on the night and got to the free-throw line 31 times, which made Koopman happy after the Coyotes weren’t as aggressive on offense or defense in their first two games.

“We really didn’t attack the board in our first two games,” he said. “We weren’t aggressive offensively either and I told the girls that we’re not a high-octane offense and we’ve got to attack the basket.

“(Monday), we got to the line 31 times and rebounded very well both offensively and defensively,” he continued. “I was happy to see those two things.”

Hensel led the Coyotes with 18 points and nine rebounds while Voelker had 11 points and Makenzie Switzer recorded nine points and five assists. Natalie Westhoff had seven points, 13 rebounds and five assists for Reed City.

Lyman paced the Cardinals with 17 points, including five three-pointers, and five assists while Hunt had 13 points and Ashley Seath had nine points.

The Coyotes will host Morley Stanwood on Thursday.