CLARE — Reed City boys basketball has waited 22 years for a district championship. The wait is over.

The Coyotes clinched their first district title in over two decades with a 54-44 win over archrival Big Rapids on Friday at Clare High School.

"There's nothing else like this," Reed City Chris Barton said. "Winning over Big Rapids tonight means everything to us. We have been working all year long for this."

"(Big Rapids) is solid everywhere, they have no weaknesses," Reed City coach Dean McGuire said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game, and it was fun."

Big Rapids controlled the game in the first quarter after junior Ryan Mackall converted on a running layup, putting the Cardinals up 9-3 late in the first. The Cardinals led 10-3 at the end of the first quarter.

Reed City quickly closed the gap after scoring five straight points midway through the second to tie the game at 12.

"We didn't deserve to win," Big Rapids coach Kent Ingles said. "We made so many mistakes tonight. We just didn't play very smart, and (Reed City) played hard. I don't want to take anything away from them. I hope they do well."

Big Rapids senior Isaac Hughes' layup ended the half as the Cardinals led 18-17.

Barton had a game-high seven points at the half. Big Rapids sophomore Demetri Martin had six points at the break.

Reed City gained an edge in the third quarter after senior Chris Barton's turnaround jump shot put the Coyotes up 25-20 with 4:05 left in the quarter.

A 3-pointer from Reed City junior Mykel Dillard ended the third quarter with the Coyotes leading 37-29.

Reed City maintained its lead in the fourth as junior Matt Mund sank six bonus free throws in the final minute. Junior Andre Jones held the ball for the final 20 seconds before the Coyotes bench flooded the court.

"It feels great," Mund said. "We won two out of three games (against Big Rapids this season). We just kept calm and focused."

Ingles said emotions ran high in each game against the Coyotes this season.

"It's this way every year," Ingles said. "(The rivalry) will continue, and it's a good rivalry. Both teams are going to play hard, and sometimes people will make shots and sometimes not. That's what happened today."

Barton led the Coyotes with 17 points as Mund scored 16 points, including three 3-pointers and seven free throws.

Mackall and Martin both scored 14 points for the Cardinals.

"You look really good when the shots are falling, and not nearly as well when they are not," McGuire said. "(Big Rapids) had some open looks that didn't fall, and sometimes that's the difference in the game of basketball."