RICHLAND- Battle Creek Central and Gull Lake were scheduled to meet on January 24th, but the game was postponed due to frigid temperatures. With neither team getting out of the 40s on Tuesday, you might say the chilly conditions continued with cold shooting on both sides.
But in the end, it was a key win for a hot Battle Creek Central team which remained undefeated in division play after getting a victory over one of the teams chasing the Bearcats in the standings.
Battle Creek Central held off Gull Lake, 41-36, in this Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division boys’ basketball game on Tuesday.
The Bearcats (12-2) came into the game 8-0 in league play, with the Blue Devils close behind at 5-1.
After getting off to an early double-digit lead, Battle Creek Central had to hold strong in the final minutes of the game to survive and remain undefeated in the division.
“We set the tempo, and on the road that’s huge,” said Battle Creek Central head coach Greg Williams. “We were able to get out away from them a little bit, and then in the second half…we couldn’t throw it in the ocean. But we had just enough to win it.”
The Bearcats dominated on defense in the first quarter, giving up just four points. After 3-pointers by Joseph Bowser and Mohammed Albagami, BCC had a 14-4 lead after one quarter.
Gull Lake got their offense going in the second, mostly powered by Odell Miller, who scored nine points in the quarter.
Battle Creek Central’s offense was working fine in the quarter as well, though, and a tip-in basket by Mafiaion Joyner off of a missed 3-point attempt sent the Bearcats into the halftime break with an 11-point advantage at 29-18.
The third was low scoring for both teams, as the Blue Devils edged the Bearcats 8-6 in third quarter points. Gull Lake’s points all came at once, on a 8-0 scoring run that brought them to within five at 31-26. But BCC scored a few points of their own to send the game into the fourth with the scoreboard showing 35-26.
The Blue Devils scored the first six points of the final quarter to bring themselves within three, 35-32, but were again turned away by the Bearcats as Curtis Trigg hit a pair of free throws. Trigg narrowly missed a dunk less than a minute later, but his teammate Wendell White was there for the rebound and scored on an easy putback to extend the lead to 39-32 with under three minutes to play.
Gull Lake once again came to within three points at 39-36 after Jeff Adamski got a floater from the base line to fall, and Joey Stap sunk two free throws.
But that’s the last time the Blue Devils would score. They had several shot attempts in the final minute, but none of them were successful.
Joyner hit two free throws in the final seconds of the game to seal the 41-36 win for the Bearcats.
“A lot of small things made the difference,” said Gull Lake head coach Gary Sprague. “A play here or a play there and we might have come out on top. We got off to slow start and almost came all the way back, so it was good game just like you would expect for Gull Lake and Battle Creek Central.”
Coach Williams was happy with the way that his team worked together, especially on defense. “That’s the way we preach it all the time — team defense, and I think you saw that in the first half and it continued in the second half. We needed some stops out there and we were able to cause some turnovers.”
Miller was the game’s top scorer and rebounder, tallying 17 points and 14 boards for the Blue Devils, who fall two games back in the standings at 6-2 in the division. Wes Mink also hauled in seven rebounds for Gull Lake.
Trigg and Bowser each scored 10 points to lead the Bearcats. Trigg also added five rebounds, and Joyner had four.