Lakers title hopes dashed

 

Bear Lake’s Gary McBride (15) drives to the basket during the Lakers’ 76-54 loss to Baldwin Friday night. McBride scored 11 points in the game. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Bear Lake’s Gary McBride (15) drives to the basket during the Lakers’ 76-54 loss to Baldwin Friday night. McBride scored 11 points in the game. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BEAR LAKE — With a West Michigan D League title potentially on the line Baldwin boys basketball handled Bear Lake right from the opening tip.

The Panthers won 76-54 after a 26-4 run to start the game blew it wide-open in the first quarter.

“It shouldn’t have been like it was,” Bear Lake coach Garret Waller said. “I don’t know what happened in the first quarter. They must have wanted it more. The conference race was on the line and they came in and wanted it more than we did.”

“I think the best thing that happened to us this season was getting a loss at home,” Baldwin coach Scott Pedigro said. “I think we now realize the urgency of playing well right away. I think it’s the determination that we’ll refuse to lose.”

Baldwin’s combination of guard Blake Dockery and center Deondre McDonald took control early in the game. The Panthers went up 16-3 only four minutes in when Ahmad Gorham tossed an alley-oop to Dockery off of the backboard. Dockery led all scorers with 25 points and McDonald had 21 points.

“I never know which one is going to come up. They both played well tonight,” Pedigro said. “Sometimes they feed off each other. The nice thing is that I have other guys that are unselfish that understand to share it depending on who has the hot hand.”

The Lakers tried to rally back a bit in the second quarter with the help of Kaiden Hejl and Trent Johnson. Hejl scored four of his 18 points in the quarter and Johnson made a deep three as a part of his nine points and eight rebounds.

Bear Lake trailed 34-20 with about four minutes left in the half, but that would be as much as they could cut the deficit. Each time the Lakers would make a run Dockery and McDonald would respond on the other end to keep the game at arm’s length.

The Panthers would lead by as much as 30 in the second half en route to the win.

“We didn’t come with the intensity we needed,” Waller said.  “We need to show up and play like we did in the first quarter of Onekama and third quarter of Walkerville. We need to put four quarters together.”

The win gives Baldwin (9-1, 7-1) a two-game lead in the league with six games remaining, making a league title all that much tougher for the two teams tied for second with Bear Lake (6-4, 5-3) and Brethren (7-5, 5-3) sitting in a tough position.

“Anytime we’re own the road we have to win out. We can’t slip up,” Pedigro said. “We only had a one-game lead (going into Friday) and we just have to keep battling every night. We have to play like it’s a championship game.”

“It’s not good. We need some miracles to happen,” Waller said. “Baldwin only has one loss and we’re at three now. Stranger things have happened, but some teams need to knock Baldwin off and we need to win out.”

Bear Lake will be back next Friday against Manistee Catholic Central (0-10, 0-7) for homecoming.

Baldwin will next play at Grand Traverse Academy on Wednesday, Feb. 1 before continuing their WMDL title chase at home against Pentwater on Friday, Feb. 3.

The Lakers won the junior varsity game 52-44. Reagan Merrill led them in scoring with 24 points.

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Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or bfogg@pioneergroup.com.

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