Battle Creek Central basketball fans got a treat Thursday night in the Chuck Turner Holiday Classic tournament — a victory for their Bearcats.
Central defeated the Milwaukee South Division Cardinals (3-3), 47-43, at the Battle Creek Central Fieldhouse to advance to 6-0 on the season.
“It was a really great victory tonight,” said Bearcat Athletic Director Michael VanHoven. “It was nice to bring in a team from Milwaukee, and play someone (the Bearcats) don’t play during the year. … It was a hard fought game…(and) it is nice to win at this tournament. When folks come back for the holidays to watch this tournament, it’s just kind of a special feeling–I think (the fans) got a treat tonight.”
The Bearcats, using its fast-tempo offense to its advantage in the first quarter, built a 13-4 lead to start off the game. But a few minutes later, Milwaukee hit back-to-back jumpers to decrease that Bearcat lead to five, 16-11, with 2:13 left in the quarter.
In the second quarter, with Central up seven, guard Mohammed Albagami hit a three with 7:15 remaining in the half. Later in that quarter, the Bearcats’ suffocating defense and transition offense created a 10-point lead, 24-14, with 4:03 remaining.
Nearing the end of the first half, a Central pass from Bearcat guard Joseph Bowser to power forward Curtis Trigg off a pick-and-roll increased the lead to 12, 26-14. But a minute later, Cardinal guard Carl Thomas converted an alley-oop to decrease the lead to 10, 27-17, as the first half ended.
“We had a little time off,” said Bearcat coach Gregg Williams, who believes his Central team came out a little flat because of the holiday break. “Trying to get those legs back, we were off a little bit. … (But) we will be back tomorrow, and hopefully play a lot better.”
With the Bearcats up 10 to start the second half, Trigg’s drop-step move to the basket made the Bearcat lead 12. However, with 3:59 left in the third, Milwaukee South Division trimmed the Bearcat lead to seven, 29-22.
But Trigg would not be denied his points-in-the-paint, converting on his next two shots to make the Bearcat lead double-digits, 35-24, with the third quarter ending.
In the fourth quarter the Cardinals batled back as Milwaukee South Division cut into an 11-point Bearcat lead to trail by only six with 3:45 remaining in the game. But Central, behind a stout defensive approach late in the fourth quarter, refused to give in and won by four, 47-43, when the final buzzer sounded.
Statistically for the Bearcats, Trigg had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Bowser added 12 points and two assists.