Whenever Battle Creek Central coach Greg Williams takes his team up against city rival Lakeview, he’s always concerned by what he sees on Friday night.
But he’s more interested in what he sees Saturday morning.
“It’s always huge to win a rivalry game. Now I get to wake up in the morning and see in the paper that the Bearcats won. That’s really all you want to see in this kind of crosstown rivalry game,” Williams said.
In this instance, Williams was happy with what he saw Friday night and what he’s seeing this morning as Battle Creek Central defeated rival Lakeview, 61-50, in this Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division boys’ basketball game.
The Bearcats improve to 6-2 on the season as Lakeview falls to 2-5.
“This rivalry goes way back, so it’s huge to get a win when you are playing in this kind of game with the big crowd,” Williams said. “It was the kind of game it was meant to be. Both teams playing hard until the end.”
Battle Creek Central used a hot-shooting second half to get a double-digit lead in the third quarter and take control. During one stretch, the Bearcats hit five consecutive 3-pointers – three by Mohammed Albagami and two by Trevin Alexander – to grab their biggest lead of the game at 45-31 with 1:30 remaining in the period.
“They went to a 1-3-1 zone, I think they wanted to slow us down a bit, but that opened up some shots for us in the second half,” Williams said. “We had those same shots in the first half and we weren’t hitting them. But we talked about shooting with confidence in the second half and if we keep getting those shots we’ll knock them down and we’ll win this game.”
Lakeview kept the game relatively close much of the first half and led 18-17 with 3:30 remaining in the second quarter.
However, the Bearcats ended the half on a 7-0 run to take a 24-18 lead into halftime.
Then the onslaught of 3-pointers in the third quarter was too much for Lakeview to overcome.
“In the second half, they made some adjustments against our zone,” Lakeview coach Steve Wichmann said. “I thought we played a great first half in our zone and got them out of rhythm. But in the second half, they knocked down a couple of shots that they weren’t hitting in the first half.”
Despite the offensive burst in the second half by BCC, Lakeview did make a late charge. The Spartans pulled to within 57-50 with 1:00 left, but the Bearcats stopped the comeback right there.
“We have some guys who work really hard in practice and we wanted to get them in the game when we had that lead, but we might have gone to that too soon,” Williams said. “Lakeview was really scrappy and played all the way to the end.”
BCC was led by Albagami with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and six rebounds from his guard position with Elijah Jackson adding 11 points and five rebounds as Alexander had 10 points and six rebounds.
Lakeview was led by Donnie Ernsberger with 14 points and eight rebounds as Jake Bivens added 11 points and six rebounds with Jake Love chipping in 10 points and five rebounds. Point guard Brennan Kerr had a game-high six assists for the Spartans.
“I was proud of the effort. I wished we could have kept it a little closer a little longer to see what would happen,” Wichmann said. “But I thought our guys battled like warriors.”