Battle Creek Central was without three of its key players on Friday night, but the nine Bearcats who took the floor still took care of business.
In a late-season SMAC East Division contest, short-handed Battle Creek Central ran away with a 60-42 victory over Kalamazoo Loy Norrix.
“We had a lot of key players out today and a couple of us had to step up more,” said BCC senior guard Dontell Hardy. “Just had to execute and get money today.”
Eight different Bearcats scored in the victory, as BCC improved to 13-6 heading into Tuesday’s regular season finale vs. Lakeview. It also secured at least a share of second place in the SMAC East Division with a 7-2 league record.
The game was a possible preview of next week’s Class A District 2 Tournament at Sturgis – although BCC and Loy Norrix wouldn’t meet until the district finals on March 11.
“This time of year, February is rolling out and March is rolling in, you want to be playing hopefully your best basketball,” said BCC head coach Durant Crum. “Once the games are over next week, you get one opportunity to get a win. And if you don’t, you pack it up and your season’s over. You really want to have some momentum going into the postseason.”
BCC didn’t get on the scoreboard until 3:54 to play in the first quarter when Hardy drove hard to the basket and was fouled as he made a layup. He converted on the free throw for the old fashioned three-point play, sparking a 10-3 run to end the period.
Loy Norrix trimmed the deficit to 22-20 early in the second quarter, before BCC went on a 14-0 run. During that stretch, BCC turned some defense into offense with several steals followed by fast break baskets – the most emphatic coming when senior guard Cyntell Williams tossed an alley-oop up to senior forward Brett White, who electrified the crowd with a one-handed slam.
From there, BCC was effectively on cruise control. The blowout looked even better for the Knights (11-8, 6-4 SMAC East) after senior forward Damarquay Morgan drilled a half-court buzzer-beater at the end of regulation.
Junior guard Demetrius Craig led the Bearcats with a game-high 15 points. Hardy had 13 points and junior guard Denzell Banks had nine points.
“We came closer to playing 32 minutes of basketball,” Crum said. “Tonight I felt like we played pretty good, pretty solid both halves and pretty much all four quarters. On defense, our guys were focused and didn’t give up a lot of easy things.”
Nick Buckley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley