After starting the season 0-5, Battle Creek Central has been fighting uphill the entire season to get back to the .500 mark.
With the Bearcats winning on Tuesday they finally did that as Battle Creek Central defeated St. Joseph, 50-47, in this Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference non-division boys’ basketball game at BCC.
BCC is now at 6-6, going 6-1 since that slow start. And finally putting their losing record behind them is big mentally for the Bearcats according to BCC coach Greg Williams
“We’re pretty excited, we are 6-6 now, so we are back to the break-even mark,” Williams said. “It’s really important to get to the .500 mark. I knew we’d eventually get there, or have the possibility of doing it. Getting back even in the win-loss column, that’s huge mentally. And it’s something we can build off of.”
Jahmiel Wade of Battle Creek Central takes a 3-point shot against St. Joseph.
BCC couldn’t put this game into the win column until the final seconds as St. Joseph fought back in the final minutes to make this a close game.
After a tip-in rebound basket by the Bearcats’ Wendell White in the final minute of the third quarter, Battle Creek Central led 37-30, seemingly getting ready to put the game away in the final quarter.
But St. Joseph crawled back into the contest and finally tied the contest at 44-44 on a putback bucket by Samuel Szwabowski with 2:17 left in regulation.
That set up a situation in the final minutes where both teams had a chance to win.
“St. Joe had five wins this year coming in, same as us, they run some good stuff, so I knew it was going to be a grind-it-out game,” Williams said. “It was kind of a chess match out there late. Give them a lot of credit, at the end they had a shot to tie the game. But in the end we had enough to win.”
The Bears had the ball in the final two minutes with the game tied and were looking to take the final shot. However, St. Joseph threw the ball away to give BCC possession.
After a timeout, the Bearcats ran a set play on the in-bounds which resulted in a layup by BCC’s Demetrius Craig to put the home team up 46-44 with :36 remaining. After a St. Joseph miss, BCC’s White hit two free throws to give the Bearcats a 48-44 lead with :19 left.
“We broke down defensively. We came out of that time out tied and gambled on two passes and that led to a lay up,” St. Joseph coach Greg Blomgren said., “We have a young, inexperienced team so we broke down there. The play before that, we had the ball tied and we’re going to hold for the last shot and we throw the ball the way. So there’s a couple plays that make the difference in a situational, time and score game.”
The Bears weren’t quite done yet, however, as they hurried the ball upcourt and St. Joseph’s Macmahon Shimulunas hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 48-47 with :09 remaining. Shimulunas led St. Joseph with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, with Jordan Brewer adding 10 points as the Bears fall to 5-5 overall.
Two more made free throws by BCC’s Craig gave the Bearcats the 50-47 lead. A late 3-pointer by St. Joseph at the buzzer to tie the game was off to give BCC the win.
“We executed real well. Guys have to make plays and we had the right guys out there. So to call a timeout and run a set play and go back up, that was huge,” Williams said. “We showed some growth out there tonight. In a grind-it-out game, it’s good to be in the winning locker room and be on this end of it.”
White led BCC with 14 points with Jahmiel Wade adding 11 points and Craig getting 10.