Reed City's season ends with disappointing loss in districts

(Pioneer photo/Justin McKee)
(Pioneer photo/Justin McKee)

REED CITY — It was a disappointing ending to the season for the Reed City Coyotes.

The Big Rapids Cardinals won the season series with Reed City on Wednesday night (March 5) in a 55-53 victory over the Coyotes. While the other two games in the series were important, this one was for a trip to the district championship on Friday night.

Big Rapids defeated Chippewa Hills in the district title game and also won their regional opener Monday of this week.

The Cardinalspushed out to an early lead in front of an electric audience. The Cardinals got out to a 5-1 lead before Chad Samuels knocked down a trey for the home team  to draw the Coyotes closer. Kyle Wright made a layup to propel Reed City to a 10-9 advantage going into the second quarter.

Quinn Tyson got an and-one to fall for the Cardinals to take the lead back, but the Coyotes got five unanswered points from Samuels to keep a 28-22 advantage going into halftime.

Both sides traded baskets to open the second half, but the Coyotes slowly started to build momentum. Jake Hayes got a triple to fall but Dean Eichenberg led the way with three 3-pointers in the frame to push the Coyote lead to seven points going into the final stanza.

With a solid lead the Coyotes entered the final quarter with their eyes set on a district final matchup. The Coyotes took 54 seconds off the clock in the opening possession, in no hurry to score. They got a layup from Samuels to protect the lead, and kept the Cardinals off the scoreboard until the 5:09 mark when Demetri Martin poked away a steal and soared for a one-handed slam to pull the Cardinals within seven.

Tyson followed it up with a steal and layup and Hayes hit another trey and, all of a sudden, the Cardinals were down just three points. Both squads traded baskets until Tyson was able to send a layup home to make it a one-point game. The Coyotes started to miss close shots and Samuels missed three free throws down the stretch to let the Cardinals stay close.

“The Tyson foul on Chad...Chad was pretty upset and went to the corner,” Reed City coach Dean McGuire said. “I tell my kids all the time, just walk away from the officials and he did. Then he went to the corner, the opposite corner of the ball, and we set a screen, we lobbed it in to Kyle and Martin steals it and dunks it...After that they picked up their intensity and we kind of hung our heads a little bit.”

Martin got his second dunk of the night and off another Samuels miss, Tyson took it coast-to-coast for a hard layup and was fouled. He sank both throws to give a 50-49 lead to Big Rapids. Tyson did the same on the next trip to take a three-point advantage with under 40 seconds to play.

The Cardinals looked like they had things wrapped up when Josh Saez connected from long distance to bring his squad within two. On the inbound pass Big Rapids lost the ball out of bounds and Samuels was fouled. The senior missed the first and made the second and Big Rapids sealed the deal at 55-53 after a final shot was off the mark from Wright.

“The last six or seven minutes, (we played) pretty well,” Big Rapids coach Kent Ingles said. “We went back to what we call ‘playing basketball.’ No plays, just take the ball to the hole and make some things happen.”

Tyson led the Cardinals with 16 points while Jake Hayes added 11 and Martin chipped in 10. Samuels put up 20 for the Coyotes in the district semifinal contest as Eichenberg added 15 on five triples.

“In three games they scored 57, 55 and 53. We’ve been averaging 72,” McGuire said. “There’s something about Big Rapids that our kids can’t get. We played a little tentative. We had some turnovers down the stretch.”

“Neat group of kids, they found a way,” Ingles said. “We finished it off going down the stretch. I feel real fortunate to win. We feel real lucky to come out on top.”

Reed City ended at 15-5. The Coyotes lost three of their last four games.