The Battle Creek Central Bearcats almost lost a nine-point lead with three minutes to play, but were able to hang on for a 60-58 victory over a good Jackson Vikings team in boys’ basketball action Tuesday night at the Battle Creek Central Field House.
Junior guard Mohammed Albagami hit two key free throws when it mattered most, giving BCC a 59-56 lead with 47.9 seconds to play.
Trailing 60-58, Jackson’s Clifford Kelly had a chance to tie the game from the free-throw line with 3.9 seconds left, but the Viking center missed both free throws. After the second miss there was a mad scramble for the ball, but neither team could grab hold of it and the clock expired.
It was a non-league contest, but still a big win for the Bearcats as they beat the team that knocked them out of the district playoffs last season and improved to 3-0 on the year.
“It’s really great for the guys. Practices are more spirited, there’s a lot of pride in the school and the fans were loud in here tonight,” BCC coach Greg Williams said of his team’s hot start. “We’re trying to restore the roar here at Battle Creek Central and I think the Bearcats will be roaring tomorrow at school.”
The Bearcats trailed 17-10 after the first quarter, but clawed their way back to a one-point deficit by halftime, 28-27.
Mafiaion Joyner’s first basket of the game was a big one as the junior forward’s 3-pointer gave the Bearcats a 37-34 lead with 2:40 to play in the third quarter. It was BCC’s only 3-pointer of the game.
Joyner scored another bucket shortly after and the Bearcats ended the third quarter on a 12-4 run to take a 42-38 lead into the final frame.
BCC looked like it was going to run away with the game in the fourth quarter when junior Joseph Bowser’s layup gave the Bearcats a nine-point 52-43 lead.
But, several turnovers and missed free throws allowed the Vikings to chip away at the lead, until they were just one point down with under a minute to play.
Trevin Alexander led the Bearcats with 18 points and six rebounds and Elijah Jackson had 13 points and seven boards.