REED CITY — Bragging rights are going back to Big Rapids.

The Cardinals’ boys basketball team lost to Reed City in a district final last season, but they took the first matchup this season on the road, winning 55-53.

Big Rapids sophomore Braeden Childress missed two free throws with four seconds remaining and the Coyotes rebounded and moved the ball upcourt, but Andre Jones’ off-balance, last-second 3-point attempt rimmed out.

The Cardinals led 51-43 with under three minutes to play, but a Mykel Dillard three-point play cut the deficit to 51-46.

Dillard sank a pair of free throws with 21 seconds to go to pull within two, before a Demetri Martin free throw made it 55-52 with 12.9 seconds remaining.

“I thought we kind of let it get away from us with some bad decisions late in the game,” Big Rapids coach Kent Ingles said. “We didn’t slow it down and run some plays, we turned it over and took some bad shots.”

Big Rapids (7-1, 4-0 Central State Activities Association Gold Division) were 18 of 38 at the free-throw line.

“You can’t be a good team if you can’t knock down free throws,” Ingles said. “And we have good athletes at the line. But a win is a win and Reed City is a tough place to win.”

Reed City coach Dean McGuire said he was pleased with how his team battled back late.

“I’m proud as heck of our guys for competing hard, and that is all we ask,” he said.

The Coyotes dropped to 4-4 and 2-2 in the CSAA, but McGuire said there were several positives from Friday’s game.

“We’ve sputtered this year, but this is going to jumpstart us,” he said. “Our kids aren’t happy right now, which is good. I think we are going to be hungry come practice on Monday. We have two more conference games next week and have to get back at it. But I do think there is a sense of we belong here now. Big Rapids is the team to beat in our conference and we hung with them.”

Martin led the Cardinals with 20 points, while Jeffrey Davenport scored 11 points. Hector added eight points.

Schuyler Smith scored a team-high 12 points for the Coyotes, while Taylor Pelton and Dillard each added 11 points.

Reed City plays at Chippewa Hills Friday night.