Evart falls to Manistee

MANISTEE — Manistee picked up its third win of the boys basketball season, snapping a three-game losing streak with a 55-48 victory over Evart on Feb. 3.

Evart junior Danny Griffin led all scorers with 20 points, including three 3-pointers, in a game that had 17 lead changes and three ties before Manistee (3-9) pulled away late and salted the contest away down the stretch.

“I thought we played with a little bit of energy and that’s what we’ve been lacking,” Wildcats coach Kris Morgan said. “We like to get out and run a little bit, and their zone really kind of slowed us down. I give Manistee credit, they hit some tough shots, and I think our defense just didn’t step up and stop those shots.”

Griffin’s threes all came in the first half, which caused Manistee coach Tina Miller to get away from her preferred 2-3 zone defense and put Brandon Wick on Griffin man-to-man.

“Brandon stepped up and played great defense on him,” Miller said. “We just switched it up and said, ‘Brandon, you’re on him.’ He’s our best defender and he did a great job.”

That hot hand cooled considerably after that. The Wildcats (4-7) got just two other long bombs in the contest, including an off-balance shot at the halftime buzzer by senior Andrew Bengry that gave Evart a 24-23 lead at the break.

“We’re kind of a hot-and-cold team,” Morgan said. “We do like to shoot from the outside, but sometimes we settle for that too much and get away from attacking the rim. Consistent shooting is a big thing for us.”

Manistee also found the range from beyond the arc, getting three 3-pointers from three different players in the game. Tyler Peck drained a three to end a third quarter in which every basket changed the lead to give the Chippewas a 34-32 advantage going into the fourth.

“Those threes, you can live and die by them, but if you’re on, it makes a huge difference,” Miller said.

Chase Swidorski and Alejandro Olvera were the other two Chippewas who converted threes in the game.

Robert Tapling scored 14 points for the Wildcats, including a layup off of an inbounds play that gave his team a 37-36 lead with 6:50 left in the fourth.

That would be the last lead that Evart would enjoy in the contest. Wick finished a fast break with a layup 17 seconds later that started a 10-2 Manistee run from which the Wildcats would not recover.

Noah Drake stopped that run with his only three of the game, which cut the Chippewa lead to 46-42 with 3:28 left, and gave the home team some work to do down the stretch.

Manistee allowed just four points from that point, however, and converted three of its four free throws in the final 33 seconds of play to run out with the win.

Tai Allen led the Chippewas with 14 points.

“For our confidence level, this is huge,” Miller said. “We’ve been working so hard to get better, and they give 100 percent every time in practice, I think for them this is a huge confidence builder.”