Reed City holds back Tri County in rematch

REED CITY — The regular season is winding down for the Reed City boys basketball team, which has home games this Friday with Central Montcalm and next Tuesday with Lakeview to close the regular season.

Reed City plays at Evart on Monday with a 4 p.m. JV and 5:30 p.m. varsity start. The earlier starts are to accommodate fans to watch the Big Rapids at Reed City girls basketball district game on Monday.

Meanwhile, Reed City defeated Tri County a week ago by 36 points at Howard City in Central State Activities Association Gold Division action.

That game was a boys basketball weather-related makeup and with the way the schedule was set up, the Coyotes played the Vikings again on Tuesday, and Reed City coach JJ Eads was leary of a possible letdown.

It appears he had a right to be.

Tri County (0-14, 0-10) came out determined and trailed the Coyotes (4-11, 4-7) only 12-10 after the first quarter and 25-24 at halftime and snuck out a 47-44 victory. It was 59-23 last week.

"We're a young team and it showed again tonight," Reed City coach JJ Eads said. "We warned them that you can't overlook (Tri County) after what happened last week."

With a balanced Tri County attack led by Kyle Acton, who had six points in the first half, the Vikings had the lead at times in the first two quarters. Zac Saez and Phillip Jones had seven points apiece for the Coyotes.

Reed City was playing without 6-foot-4 post player Karsten Koopman, out with an illness, forcing Reed City to have a smaller lineup.  Tri County at times took advantage with some offensive rebounds. Eads acknowleged some players in the Reed City lineup also weren't feeling well.

"You have to deal with it," Eads said. "We could have responded better."

Tri County fired out to a 32-29 lead at 3:38 of the third on a basket by Justin Kirkwood. Cody Kailing scored at 2:34 for a 33-32 Reed City lead followed by a Brendan Evans putback. The Coyotes led 39-35 going into the fourth quarter. Justin Kirkwood opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and the Vikings took an early lead.

Evans scored at 5:20 for a 41-40 lead but the lead would seesaw the rest of the way. Sturgell's 3-point play gave the Coyotes a 46-42 lead with 2:40 play. Reed City missed a shot at the other end but Tri County was called for an offensive charge when it appeared the Vikings might be getting a field goal and free-throw attempt.

Kailing got fouled with 15.5 seconds to play and hit a free throw for a 47-44 lead. Tri County got the ball back with 11.3 seconds to go in regulation. They called timeout with three seconds to go. Phillip Jones blocked Kirkwood's 3-point try at the buzzer.

"We came out a little flat, but we finished well," Sturgell said. "We didn't have our starting big (Koopman) in there."

Evans scored 10 points while Zac Saez added nine points and Jones, Kailing and Sturgell scored seven. Kirkwood had 15 for Tri County.

"Their big guy (Adam Kamp) killed us down low," Eads said. "With long rebounds, we couldn't get a handle on it. (Kamp) did a nice job."

Reed City is home against Chippewa Hills on Friday.

"We'll have to get ready for Chip Hills, which is a big rivalry game," Eads said.