Brett White has waited four years to win a district title.
Fans of Battle Creek Central’s boys basketball program have waited even longer.
The wait ended for all of Bearcat Country on Friday as Battle Creek Central defeated Loy Norrix, 67-53, to win this Class A boys basketball district title at Sturgis.
“We haven’t won one of these in years. It feels good to bring the tradition of winning to Battle Creek Central,” said White, a senior for the Bearcats. “It was a big thing for me to see us get it done. I was up my freshman year and got a taste, but we lost in the district championship, and we haven’t got that close since. So it feels good now to finally take that trophy home.”
It is the first district championship for BCC since 2008 – a long stretch for a proud Bearcat boys basketball program.
“This is very exciting for us. It’s been a long time coming for this program,” said Durant Crum, who is in his first year as the head coach at BCC. “It’s been one of the goals the guys set early. I am very proud of these guys to accomplish that goal, they played outstanding.”
BCC improves to 17-6 on the season and advances to the Class A regional at Mason where the Bearcats will face undefeated East Lansing (22-0) on Monday.
To get the district title, BCC was going to have to beat a Loy Norrix team for the third time this season. The Bearcats had advanced to the district title game by beating a Lakeview squad for the third time this year also.
“We tried to make sure we weren’t going to underestimate these guys since we beat them twice, we wanted to guard against that,” Crum said. “We talked to the guys all the way through the districts about how we were going to face a couple teams we had beaten during the regular season, but we had to make sure we knew this wasn’t going to be easy.”
The Bearcats first started to stretch the lead late in the first half as White hit a layup to end a 9-2 run and take the advantage to 32-25 with :19 left in the second quarter.
BCC started to turn up the pressure on defense in the second half, leading to some transition baskets. After a steal that led to a layup by Cyntell Williams, the Bearcats had their first double-digit lead of the game at 43-32 with 3:55 left in the third quarter.
The Knights hung tough however and cut the lead to four midway through the fourth quarter. However, Dontell Hardy came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer and two possessions later, Hardy had back-to-back layups off of turnovers at midcourt to take the lead to 60-48 with 2:38 left in the game.
“We have made things happen with our half-court trapping a lot during the season. We weren’t going to really use that tonight because we figured Loy Norrix had practiced for it,” Crum said. “But it’s our bread-and-butter so we decided we had to go to it and that helped us stretch out the lead.”
White led BCC with 23 points and six rebounds.
“Late in this game, we were thinking about how Loy Norrix knocked us out last year. So we used that to bring some intensity for this game and make sure that didn’t happen again,” White said. “This is a big weight off our shoulders and all we can do now is smile and enjoy it.”
Williams added 14 points for the Bearcats and Juan Warren had nine points, eight rebounds and four steals.
Armonte Tolbert had 16 points to lead Loy Norrix, which ends the season at 13-10.
Bill Broderick can be reached at email@example.com or 269-966-0678. Follow him on Twitter:@billbroderick