In terms of a debut, they don’t get much better than this.
In the first game of the season, with a head coach in his first game with the team, Battle Creek Central came up with a dramatic victory in the final seconds to get the first win of the season.
Battle Creek Central edged Jackson, 59-58, in the season opener for both teams as the Bearcats’ Juan Warren crashed the boards and converted a putback with :05 on the clock to give his team the lead. Then BCC’s Brandon Randle came up with a steal as Jackson tried to get a final shot with :01 left to complete the win.
“It was almost too exciting. The ending was real nerve-racking. We had to play catchup there at the end. We had to get the guys to buy into the fact that it’s not over until it’s over. As long as there is time on the clock we had to think we had a chance,” said Durant Crum, after his first game as the varsity head coach of Battle Creek Central. “You always want that first win of the season as a coach, no matter how long it takes. So to get it at the beginning of the season is great.”
The final sequence provided another first. It was the first game-winning shot for Warren in his high school career.
“Yeah, that was the first time I ever did that. My first game-winner,” Warren said. “We wanted to drive the middle and look for a shot and then I just went up for the rebound. In my mind I was thinking I had to make something happen and the ball found me and I was able to get the putback.”
It was also a new feeling to get a win in the first game of the season. Battle Creek Central had struggled in recent years early in the year to find victories. That was looking like it was going to be the case again as the Bearcats were tied at the end of the third quarter, but found themselves down 53-44 with 5:10 left in the game.
“For a minute we had the lead and I think we thought we had the game won. But the other team kept playing hard and they took over,” Warren said. “But we came back at the end, so that was good to see. It’s good to get that first win of the year this early this year, it’s something new around here.”
Battle Creek Central seemed to have momentum on its side early in the second half as Warren opened the third quarter with a dunk to give the home team a 31-26 lead.
However, Jackson’s R’Mand Brown scored 13 points in the third quarter alone and the score was tied 42-42 to being the fourth.
Jackson then started the fourth quarter with a 11-2 run as a Bearcat turnover led to a fastbreak layup by Shonte Suddeth to give the visitors a 53-44 lead.
However, the Bearcats finished the game on a 15-5 run of their own to win the game.
“We allowed them to get that cushion by being too careless with the basketball and trying to do too many things,” Crum said. “But I am pretty pleased with our effort after we got down. We kept fighting and kept plugging away. We showed a lot of hustle and effort and we didn’t allow ourselves to quit.”
Battle Creek Central won the game with balanced scoring. Julieon Cooper led the way with 12 points and seven rebounds with Demetrius Craig adding 11 points as Warren finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and six blocked shots. Cyntell Williams chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.
Suddeth and Brown each had 16 points to lead Jackson.