Cardinals edge Lions, 62-57

Big Rapids boys hold on to beat Newaygo in first conference game

BIG RAPIDS — The Big Rapids boys basketball team opened its conference slate with a 62-57 win over Newaygo at Big Rapids High School on Friday night, but it wasn’t nearly as easy as the Cardinals’ 25-13 lead after the first quarter foreshadowed.

“You can learn a lesson when you lose a ball game, but we’re fortunate to learn a lesson when we win,” Big Rapids coach Kent Ingles said.

IN THE LANE: Big Rapids’ Demetri Martin (center) drives down the lane against Newaygo on Friday night. The Cardinals held on for a 62-57 win in their CSAA Gold Division opener. (Pioneer photo/Daine Pavloski)

IN THE LANE: Big Rapids’ Demetri Martin (center) drives down the lane against Newaygo on Friday night. The Cardinals held on for a 62-57 win in their CSAA Gold Division opener. (Pioneer photo/Daine Pavloski)

The Cardinals were all over the Lions early, jumping out on a 7-0 run over the first three minutes of the contest with five points coming from sophomore Demetri Martin.

Big Rapids continued to thrive on transition layups for the rest of the opening stanza before Newaygo got some 3-pointers to fall to close the quarter. The Cardinals held to a comfortable 25-13 advantage after one, but it wouldn’t stay comfortable for long.

“It’s a lot similar to what happened at Kingsley,” Ingles said. “We got off to a good start, everything was hitting and then we started to individualize things.”

The Cardinals mustered just eight points in the second quarter while the Lions clawed back, but every time Newaygo cut the deficit to four points, Martin took matters into his own hands, knocking down jumpers, free throws and coast-to-coast layups to keep the home team on top, 33-27, heading into halftime.

“Yeah (I was trying to take over) because we were making a lot of mistakes in the beginning,” Martin, who tallied 15 points in the first half, said. “Coach told me to just do my thing, so I did.”

“That was part of Demetri’s plan,” Ingles said. “It was part of Q’s (Quinn Tyson’s) plan last year. Players make plays. We’re lucky to have (Martin) and he played hard and did a lot of good things for us.”

Newaygo evened the odds in a hurry in the third quarter with back-to-back triples from James Warren to knot things up at 33-33 as part of an 8-0 Newaygo run to open the frame.

Once again, Martin took over, this time as a facilitator as he found Kenny Davis for a long two before Jamison Green converted on a putback to push the Cardinals back out to a 47-37 lead heading into the final quarter.

Martin started the fourth with an and-one play, but the Lions battled back with the long ball as Ben Wolford, who had four of the Lions’ nine 3-pointers and 27 points on the night, heated up as Newaygo went on a 13-0 run to tie the game at 53-53 with two minutes left to play.

The Cardinals struggled to get the ball past half court and surrendered a pile of turnovers, but Martin, Green and Davis knocked down free throws down the stretch to seal the 62-57 conference victory.

“We lost a couple of games early in the season last year, so this year I’ve told the guys ‘Let’s stay out of the meat grinder,’” Ingles said. “We were almost in it (Friday)…We darn near kicked one away.”

Martin led the Cardinals with 25 points, including six of the Cardinals’ 13 made free throws and a triple, while Davis chipped in 14 with two treys.

“Demetri had a nice ball game,” Ingles said. “He was 25 (points) and around seven boards and seven assists again too. He played hard and played pretty good defense again.”

The Cardinals (2-0, 1-0 CSAA Gold) play next at McBain on Tuesday.

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