The Battle Creek Central boys’ basketball team looked like a major contender, if not the frontrunner, for the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division title on Friday.
The Bearcats utilized a strong defensive effort to limit a talented Marshall team early, and held on for a 48-35 league victory to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Marshall (1-1) cut the deficit to single digits entering the final quarter, but couldn’t get out of the hole it dug with a two-point first-quarter effort.
“We got some veterans and they know what we want to do,” said BCC head coach Greg Williams. “Obviously we need to work to get better, but I was very proud of the way we played defensively. That’s where it starts if you want to win, you’ve got to shut people down. They were struggling to find a shot, and we hang our hat on that and we’re proud of our defense tonight.”
Battle Creek Central 6-foot-5 senior forward Trevin Alexander displayed his versatility, finishing with a game-high 14 points, including three 3-pointers, to go with four assists and six rebounds.
“He really spreads the court. He’s a good passer too,” Williams said of Alexander. “We have to develop some post presence. And that’s something we’ll do as the season goes on.”
Also for the Bearcats, junior point guard Joseph Bowser II dished out five assists and had five steals to go with his eight points, while senior guard Mohammed Albagami scored 11 points.
Marshall was led by senior center Trevor Travis with 10 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Robbie Ranville scored nine points and had five rebounds and senior guard Tony Wimberly had eight points.
The Bearcats led 14-2 after one quarter and took a 23-8 lead into halftime. The Redhawks responded by outscoring BCC 13-7 to cut the deficit to nine going into the fourth quarter.
“Rough first quarter for us. But the second quarter, third quarter and fourth quarter, I was actually really pleased with the effort,” said Marshall head coach Nick Dent. “We had a tough time in the first quarter handling their zone, we weren’t getting the ball where we needed to. We made a couple adjustments at halftime. I was pleased with the way things went after we made those adjustments.”
The victory was especially impressive for BCC considering Marshall came off a big SMAC East win over Gull Lake. Loy Norrix defeated Sturgis on Friday, giving the division just two unbeaten teams (although Lakeview’s loss was non-conference).
“We had a great road win against Gull Lake to open up the season,” Dent said. “We knew tonight would be a battle. Battle Creek Central is a great team, and playing them at their place we knew it would be a struggle, and I’m proud of the way the guys battled.”