CCA downs Bear Lake 55-44 to capture first outright D-League title since 2011

The CCA boys basketball team poses with the student section following the Cougars’ 55-44 win over Bear Lake. The Cougars earned their first league title since 2011. (Pioneer photo/Maxwell Harden)

BIG RAPIDS — Mission accomplished.

The Crossroads Charter Academy boys basketball team vanquished Bear Lake 55-44 on Tuesday night in front of a festive home crowd, giving Cougars (18-1, 16-1) their first outright West Michigan D League title since 2011.

“It was a tough game,” CCA senior captain Britton Angell said. “A lot of people are trying to spoil our season. They want to be able to say that they beat us. We came in here and played with effort, limited mistakes, and did what we needed to do.”

“I thought we did well for the most part,” head coach Julian Castillo said. “Bear Lake has some big guys. I’m proud of the boys at the end for being disciplined.”

The Cougars led 15-11 after one quarter of play thanks to a Britton Angell basket in the closing seconds.

Led by senior guard Trey Gilbert, Bear Lake kept the game close throughout. The Lakers’ 3-point shooting in the first half allowed them to keep pace with CCA’s up-tempo offense. The Cougars took a 27-21 lead into halftime.

CCA came out of the half ready to shoot. Following 3-pointers from Cody Carlson and Jackson Wickes, an Ethan Davis fast break lay-in gave the Cougars a 40-32 lead midway through the third. But the Lakers refused to surrender, cutting the lead to 44-39 at the end of the third thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Gilbert.

The fourth quarter was a change of pace for the Cougars. Leading 47-41 with roughly five minutes remaining in the game, the Cougars opted to slow the game down and possessed the ball to keep it out of the Lakers’ hands. The plan worked as the Lakers only scored three more points the rest of the game thanks to lock-down defense from the Cougars. Bear Lake was forced to foul and CCA’s last few points came via the free throw line.

“They were sitting back in a zone,” Angell said. “We wanted to make them play man because they can’t guard us man-to-man. The more we had the ball, the less opportunity they had to score.”

Angell led the Cougars with 20 points and Wickes had 12 points and Davis nine. Isaac Slomp and Carlson scored six points apiece.

Bear Lake’s Gilbert led all scorers with 24 points but had zero points in the fourth quarter.

“(Gilbert) is a good player,” Castillo said. “He was a person we had to stop. We tried to force the other guys to make plays and we were able to shut them down.”

CCA can’t afford to ease up now that it has a title. The team plays Marion on Thursday before district play begins next week.

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