Reed City boys rally past Tri County in thriller

REED CITY — Andre Jones hit three key free throws and a layup, and added a critical steal in the final seconds as Reed City held back Tri County Friday night to start off the Central State Activities Association boys basketball season with a 72-70 victory.

The Coyotes (1-0, 1-1), were coming off a 72-58 loss to Cadillac in Tuesday’s season opener.

Jacob Sickelsteel’s 3-pointer gave Tri County a 66-63 lead with three minutes to play. Mykel Dillard hit two straight for a 67-66 Reed City edge. Sicklesteel’s layup put Tri County back up 68-67 and the Vikings enjoyed a 70-67 lead with 35.1 seconds to play. Jones followed with two free throw and scored off a Trent Sturgell backcourt steal with 20 seconds to play for a 71-70 lead. Jones stole the ball in the key and was fouled with 5.4 seconds to go. He hit one of two free throws and time ran out on the Vikings

“A couple turnovers at the end went our way and a couple of breaks went  our way,” Reed City coach Dean McGuire said. “It was a game that could have gone either way. Tri County played really hard. Coach (Zach) Ingles does a nice job with those guys.”

Against Tri County (0-1, 0-2) the Coyotes fired put to a 7-0 lead, then found themselves behind 8-7 in a high tempo full-court game.

The Coyotes regained momentum and led 20-10 late in the first quarter on Matt Mund’s 3-pointer. Tri County stayed close early in the second but Karsten Koopman’s drive gave the hosts a 24-22 lead.

The Coyotes went up 36-25 on Collin Hatfield’s 3-pointer late in the second quarter and Dillard had a tip-in at the buzzer for a 38-25 halftime lead.

Taylor Pelton scored early in the third quarter for a 42-27 lead. Tri County made its move and Dylan Matulis hit a 3-pointer at 4:50 to cut the Coyote lead to 43-32. He later scored two straight baskets to cut it to 47-43. Sturgell drove inside and Jones followed with a layup for a 51-43 advantage. It was 51-46 after three.

Schuyler Smith scored two straight for a 55-49 Reed City lead with 6:59 to play. Tri County fought back to a 57-57 tie. Sickelsteel’s 3-pointer gave the Vikings a 60-57 lead at the five-minute mark while the Coyotes continued to miss key free throws. Reed City scored four straight as the battle continued.

Jones had 15 points while Dillard had 14, Schuyler Smith added 12 and Matt Mund put in nine.

“Andre’s effort was great down the stretch,” McGuire said. “He and Trent (Sturgell) caused a turnover down there. Trent did a great job and gave it to Andre. A couple of plays earlier, Leland (Yonkin) got a great rebound and passed it off to Schuyler.

Matulis netted 20 points and Sickelsteel scored 17 for Tri County.

“We’re happy, but not happy with the loss,” Tri County coach Zach Ingles said. “Anytime you come to Reed City, you know you’re going to get the unexpected. I was pretty happy with our kids’ response, our kids’ effort and our kids’ attitude.”

Reed City has a home nonleague game with Evart on Wednesday.

“We have to defend better,” McGuire said. “We gave up 70 points.”