BIG RAPIDS — Manistee showed in December how strong its girls basketball team would be this season when the Chippewas posted a 55-31 win over Reed City.

Almost three months later, the Chippewas dominated the Coyotes again, this time in the Class B regional semifinal with a convincing 53-28 victory on March 8 at Big Rapids High School.

The season ends for the Coyotes (11-12), while Manistee (20-3) advances to the regional final at Grayling on Thursday against Houghton (16-6).

Manistee wasted little time in gaining control of the game. The Chippewas bolted out to a 14-0 lead before Lauren Voelker got the Coyotes on the board with a free throw. Manistee’s full-court press hurt the Coyotes throughout all of the first quarter.

It was 18-1 after the first eight minutes.

“We’ve stressed getting out of the gate early all year long and we’ve managed to do that quite a few times,” Manistee coach Kenn Kott said. “To do that in a regional game is even more impressive.”

The Coyotes were making their first appearance in the regionals since 2000.

“You could tell our kids had never been here and they were scared,” Reed City coach Brian Koopman said. “We threw the ball all over the place. It was still a hell of a year. These kids came and played hard. They won something they had never won before and got to the next level.”

Manistee’s Emily Thompson hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, while Georgia Hipakka and Emma Burns netted four points apiece.

“We were definitely ready to go,” Thompson said. “We had a strong game. We came out strong. That was our goal. We were able to get the job done. Now we’re focusing on Thursday.”

Thompson also hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter as the Chippewas continued to dominate.

“We’ve said all year that our defense makes our offense a lot of times,” Kott said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more than the way they came out with their focus and their intensity. They were at spots and they were there quick.”

Reed City didn’t hit its first field goal until a putback by Alyssa Olds with 1:32 left in the first half. The Chippewas were up 28-6 and went on to a 29-8 halftime lead.

“We tried a lot of different things and some new things as well,” Kott said.

Thompson scored on a 3-pointer off a fullcourt steal and Erin Dorn hit a layup off another Manistee theft for a 36-10 lead early in the third. Thompson’s 3-pointer at 4:30 made it 41-10. Emilee Kott drove for a layup to end the third quarter for a 47-17 lead.

Voelker hit a 3-pointer for the Coyotes midway in the fourth and Emily Libey followed with a 4-point play, but Manistee enjoyed a 51-22 lead.

Thompson led Manistee with 16 points, while Dorn and Kott added eight apiece.

“We probably should have gotten more pressure on them,” Koopman said. “We didn’t want to get burned. We wanted to make them beat us outside. (Thompson) hit a few and got hot and we didn’t recover.”

Voelker led Reed City with 11 points and Libey added six.

“Like I said in the lockerroom, our seniors have been leaders all year and did a good job,” Koopman said. “For the underclassmen, if that’s what they do next year, they have to put the time in. In the summer, it started when we had a month of June that we worked hard and it paid off. I told the other kids you have to do the same thing next summer if I’m here or not here.”