Coyotes vs. Cardinals: Round 3 Wednesday in Reed City

REED CITY — This time, the loser will go home.

Reed City is home Wednesday night for a boys basketball district game against arch-rival Big Rapids with the winner advancing to the title game Friday against Chippewa Hills or Clare. The season ends for the losing side.

In the last game of the regular season Saturday night, the Coyotes defeated White Cloud 76-40 in Central State Activities Association action. Reed City’s overall record is 16-4.

“We played really well,” said coach Dean McGuire, “which for me is very, very exciting to see, because we hadn’t been playing well in my opinion. I realize White Cloud has had a down year. But even with that said, the way we moved the ball, the way we rebounded the ball, the way we executed offensively and defensively, I was very happy.”

It was 28-11, 50-18 and 67-25 after the first three quarters.

Dean Eichenberg had 19 points while Chad Samuels and Kyle Wright both had 12.

Reed City had lost 60-47 to Fremont on Friday. Wright had 16 points, six rebounds, three steals and Dean Eichenberg added eight points.

Big Rapids got past Harrison Monday night to set up Wednesday’s showdown.

“We watched film (over the weekend) and a couple of things for us is that offensively, Big Rapids did a nice job with the zone and it took us a little by surprise because they played man 90 percent the first time,” McGuire said. “I’m guessing (Big Rapids) will go zone because it was more effective against us. We’ll be more prepared this time.”

The Coyotes, if they play Friday, know plenty about Chip Hills but Clare is an unknown factor.

“We played Clare in the districts last year and I know they were young and had some sophomores who now are juniors,” McGuire said. “They pound the ball into the post, at least they did last year, and did an effective job of it. They have a good record.”

Reed City vs. Big Rapids III

The first time Big Rapids and Reed City met in boys basketball action this season, the Coyotes edged the Cardinals by just two points in Big Rapids. In the second meeting on Tuesday night, Feb. 25, only four players scored for the Cardinals, but they got their revenge, beating the Coyotes 53-41 on the road.

The Cardinals and Coyotes did battle in front of a capacity crowd, but the Cards switching things up on defense made them the victors.

Quinn Tyson hit his first of three 3-pointers in the first quarter to open the game, but Reed City’s Eichenberg answered with a trey of his own. Tyson hit his second three of the game to give his Cardinals a 9-5 lead in the early going and ballooned the lead to eight points with two minutes to play in the opening frame.

The Cardinals were playing in a 3-2 zone for most of the night, which made it hard for the Coyotes to get to the basket, which Big Rapids coach Kent Ingles said was all part of the plan.

“Last time we played them they shot 34 free throws,” Ingles said. “That had a lot to do with why we made the switch (to zone). We didn’t want them shooting 34 free throws again. We’re still a man-to-man team but for (Tuesday) it was a nice change up.”

Big Rapids kept rolling to an 18-10 lead heading into the second quarter.

Chad Samuels brought his team back, hitting four straight free throws to open the second quarter as the Cards sent the Coyotes into the bonus. The Coyotes kept battling in the second, getting a 3-pointer from Eric Grannis to make it a three-point game. Samuels hit another from long range, but Austin Hayes got a late layup for the Cardinals to hold a 27-23 lead heading into halftime.

The Coyotes came out hot in the third quarter, running off four quick points to tie things up at 27-27. Samuels got another basket to put his team up 32-31, but also gave the senior his 1,000th career point.

“It’s a big accomplishment. It’s tough to do and not many people have done it in Reed City,” Samuels said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. They’re there for me all the time and they’re the ones who got it for me.”

“Your heart goes out to Chad for how hard he works,” McGuire said. “He’s a great kid, he’s a team player, he’s a leader and you pull for a kid like that. His name will go down in the Reed City history books now and he deserves it. He’s a fantastic young man.”

Tyson, another member of the 1,000 point club, hit a step-back jumper to take the lead back, giving the Cardinals a 37-36 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

The fourth started out sloppy and out of control for both teams, but the Cardinals would recover. The Coyotes would not. Reed City had a number of unforced turnovers in the final frame, and were struggling to get the offense going late in the game.

“We played hard. It was a hard-fought game and we were right in it at the end, but we did some goofy things late (Tuesday) that we just normally don’t do,” McGuire said. “We turned the ball over with no pressure and we threw the ball out of bounds a couple times.”

“(Reed City is) not an easy place to play,” Ingles said. “We just persevered. It was a game of runs and nobody could get their hooks into it until eventually we got to the free throw line a little bit and that made the difference.”

Tyson led the way for the Cardinals with 30 points in the victory. The Coyotes got 10 from Samuels and nine from Kyle Wright in the setback.

Herald-Review sports writer Daine Pavloski contributed to this report