With districts starting next week, Battle Creek Central wanted to end the regular season strong.
And since the Bearcats may face Lakeview in the districts, BCC wanted to also send a message as it played its city rival in the final game of the regular season.
Consider both goals accomplished.
Battle Creek Central rolled over Lakeview, 68-45, in this Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division contest on Thursday at Battle Creek Central.
The city rivalry game was the final regular season game for the Bearcats as they will open district play at home on Monday. If BCC beats Parma Western in that district opener, it will face Lakeview again in the district semifinals at Sturgis next Wednesday.
“We wanted to send a message. We wanted to come out strong and I think we did that in the first half,” Battle Creek Central’s Juan Warren said. “I don’t know if we played as well in the second half, but we played well in the first half and that was important because we might see them again next week.”
Battle Creek Central finished the regular season at 14-6 with the victory, while also winning 10 of its last 11 games. Bearcat coach Durant Crum said keeping that momentum was key.
“It’s real important to win your final regular season game. You don’t want to go into the tournament following a loss. So this was big that we were able to end on a positive note,” Crum said.
BCC took this game over early. After an early 6-6 score, the Bearcats went on a 17-0 run that took the score to 23-6 after a steal and a dunk by Warren with 3:00 left in the half. Warren had 18 points and five rebounds to lead Battle Creek Central. Brett White also had 18 points and five rebounds for the Bearcats with Dontell Hardy chipping in 12 points.
“We wanted to set the tone early and make sure we were in charge and in control from the start,” Crum said.
After those early six points, Lakeview did not score again in the half as the Spartans went scoreless in the second quarter. For the half, Lakeview went 3-for-20 shooting from the field and trailed 27-6 at intermission.
That kind of start took the Spartans out of their game plan as they had hoped to slow the game down, play some zone defense and force BCC to shoot the ball from the outside. Once Lakeview trailed by double digits, the Spartans were forced to try and pick up the tempo. That worked, to a certain extent, as BCC only outscored Lakeview, 41-39, in the second half. But Lakeview had dug itself too deep of a hole to climb out of.
“We did not execute things the way we thought we could or should in the first half,” Lakeview coach Steve Wichmann said. “That hurt us because our strategy was to not to have to play man and run up and down the floor with them. That all went away after that slow start.”
The early hot start also came about because BCC was fired up to see its crosstown rivals.
“This is a big rivalry for us, so the guys were ready to play,” Crum said. “We talked about how, when we played them at their place, they were the ones that came out with some fire and we were flat. This time we wanted to come out strong and I think we did that tonight.”
Gavin Homer had 14 points for Lakeview, which falls to 6-13 on the season