Feliczak, Bialik both score 30 as Sabers top Cardinals

Manistee Catholic Central senior Andrew Perry (44) elevates for a shot against Mason County Eastern’s Ryan Claveau during Monday’s Class D district quarterfinal at Baldwin. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

BALDWIN — It’s tough to beat a team for a third straight time, but Manistee Catholic Central did it with a one-two punch Monday night.

The Sabers were paced by a pair of 30-point performances from Zack Bialik and Ben Feliczak, whose 60 combined points made up 90 percent of MCC’s offense in a 66-54 Class D district quarterfinal win over Mason County Eastern.

“With the matchups we had, we worked it inside,” Feliczak said. “If their attention’s on Zack, that sometimes leaves me open.

“We’re definitely feeling good about moving on, but we know we’ve got to improve off of this.”

The win sends the Sabers (17-3) onto Wednesday’s semifinal round where they will meet West Michigan D League member Pentwater — another team they’ve beaten twice already this season. But as the Cardinals’ resilience indicated in the opener, MCC has to be on its game through the tournament.

“This game here shows you that we have to play basketball for three days,” Sabers coach Dale Edmondson Jr. said. “Our side of the bracket is so tough, and I look at it as a good thing.”

MCE (8-13), which was led by point guard Zack Eriksen’s 19 points, hung right with the Sabers early, trailing 11-9 after the first quarter and 28-23 by the break.

Despite Bialik’s relatively quiet first half, Feliczak picked up the slack to pace the Sabers with 17 points by halftime.

“We recognized right away that Ben was being guarded by a smaller guy, and we’re very fortune with the talent that Ben has where he can play inside and out,” Edmondson said. “So, we wanted to get the ball to him that first half, and he delivered, which was huge.

“They were watching Zack like everyone watches Zack, so we gave Ben the ball in there and let him post up.”

Both teams poured it in the third, with the Cardinals outscoring the Sabers 19-18 in the frame as MCC took a slim 46-42 lead into the fourth.

Bialik led the final eight minutes off with a 3-pointer, which was a sign of things to come. Despite MCE closing the gap to a point twice down the stretch, Bialik sunk two more triples — back-to-back from the same corner — and went 7-of-9 from the line in the final three minutes to cap a 21-point second half, and pull away for the win.

“When he has an opportunity, he takes the 3,” Edmondson said of Bialik’s big shots. “Of course I die a thousand deaths sometimes … but all of a sudden he hits one, then another, then three in a row.

“We were going to go strictly inside, but during a timeout he told me he’s hit three in a row, and ‘I’m going to take the next one.’ I said ‘I know you will.’

“But, yeah, it was a big game changer when he hit them.”

Feliczak led the Sabers on the glass with 11 rebounds to go with three steals while Bialik grabbed six boards. Jesse Miller scored four points, while Joey Gamache had a team-high seven assists and Jason Kaminski had five steals.

The Cardinals’ Justice Gilchrist and Jimmy Appledorn chipped in 14 and 10 points, respectively.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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