EVART — Evart stayed with a powerful McBain boys basketball team for most of the first half Thursday night.

But then the Ramblers used enough firepower to pull away late in the second quarter and control the second half to make it a 72-42 Highland Conference victory over the Wildcats on Thursday night.

McBain at 16-2 overall and 12-0 in the Highland Conference, has clinched at least a tie for first place.

“We thought we rebounded and defended a little bit better,” said McBain coach Bruce Koopman, referring to the turnaround late in the second quarter. “Jared Larr hit a three and we got a couple of buckets off of transition and basically defended a little better.”

McBain broke away from a 22-22 tie with 3:30 left in the second quarter to take a 35-24 halftime lead over the Wildcats.

Preston Boyd had a field goal and free throw with 1:30 left in the first quarter to help Evart tie the game 7-all. It was 11-9, McBain going into the second quarter.

Larr netted 12 points in the second quarter to spark a 24-point McBain attack. Tyler Mishler netted a 3-pointer to help Evart stay within reach of the Ramblers.

Cody King, who did not score in the first half, netted a 3-pointer with 5:59 left in the third for a 42-28 McBain lead. Jarek VanOrder had a free throw and field goal to help Evart cut it to 42-31 midway in the quarter. Nathan Smith hit two straight baskets for McBain for a 46-31 lead. The Ramblers were up 50-31 going to the fourth.

Mishler scored a layup off his own steal to open the quarter for Evart. King followed with a layup for McBain and a 52-33 lead with 5:47 to play. Brown hit two free throws at 4:36 for a comfortable 57-33 Rambler lead.

“I was happy with the boys intensity coming out tonight,” said Evart coach Matt Alexander. “McBain is always a team that plays physical. I thought our guys did a real nice job of matching their physicalness and maybe even being a step above their physicalness. Usually, they get other teams and other coaches rattled with physical play. We were able to do that a little while to them tonight.”

Larr led the Ramblers with 17 points. Boyd scored 11 for Evart.

“They made that little patented end-of-the-half run on us and we could never recover from it,” Alexander said.

Evart, 7-9 overall and 6-9 in the Highland, plays at McBain Northern Michigan Christian Tuesday night.

Evart is at Beal City Thursday to close out the regular season.