Harper Creek goes 'ice cold' as Coldwater wins battle of first place teams

·4 min read
Coldwater's Lu Lebron takes a shot while Harper Creek's Dashawn Leslie-Tinsley puts pressure on at Coldwater High School on Friday, January 21, 2022.
Coldwater's Lu Lebron takes a shot while Harper Creek's Dashawn Leslie-Tinsley puts pressure on at Coldwater High School on Friday, January 21, 2022.

First place at the halfway point was up for grabs in the Interstate 8 Conference.

And with a win, Coldwater will start the second half of the league season in the pole position.

With the teams coming into the game tied for the top spot in the league, Coldwater defeated Harper Creek, 80-61, in boys basketball at Coldwater on Friday.

Here are five takeaways from Friday's game:

Down to 2

Only a week ago, there was a four-way tie for first place in the Interstate 8 Conference. But with the contenders all finding each other on the schedule in recent weeks, that wasn't going to last.

After Friday's action, it is now down to two teams in first place in the league. Coldwater held serve with the win over Harper Creek at home. Elsewhere, Marshall knocked off Jackson Northwest. Both sit at 6-1 in the league with the Cardinals at 7-1 overall.

Harper Creek and Pennfield, each previously owning a spot in first place at one point in the last seven days, are both now tied for second at 5-2.

"I've said it a couple times already, there are a lot of good teams in the league. Anybody can beat anybody on a given night," Coldwater coach Aaron Bucklin said. "It's a long season and we can only worry about the game we are playing.

"But we obviously pay close attention to what's going on in conference."

Second Half Surge

Harper Creek led early and after a 3-point shot at the buzzer to end the first quarter by Keyshaun Matthews, where he was deep in the corner and falling out of bounds, the Beavers led 16-11.

That Harper Creek lead climbed to 20-13 after a 3-pointer by Julion McCray.

However, a 9-0 run by Coldwater, highlighted by a dunk by Ethan Crabtree, had the Cardinals back in front at 22-20 as the game stayed tight from there going into halftime.

That's when everything would go right for Coldwater, while at the same time, everything went wrong for Harper Creek.

Coldwater went on a 15-0 run to start the second half as a layup by 6-foot-7 Donte Work gave the Cardinals a 45-26 lead.

The Beavers would not score in the second half until the 2:59 mark as a close game became a near-20 point deficit in less than a quarter.

"We couldn't throw it in the ocean and came out ice cold in the second half. And when we were cold, we couldn't get a break to go our way — whether that was a bucket or a call," Harper Creek coach Matt Bowling said. "And they pulled away."

Crabtree dominated play during that stretch and finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Work added 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinals with Lu Lebron coming up with 13 points and four steals.

Coldwater's Donte Work takes a shot at Coldwater High School on Friday, January 21, 2022.
Coldwater's Donte Work takes a shot at Coldwater High School on Friday, January 21, 2022.

Scratch & Claw

After getting down and being out of the game before the start of the fourth quarter, Bowling credited his team with continuing to fight.

Harper Creek pressured the ball, scrambled to create loose balls, and tried to get Coldwater in foul trouble in an effort to climb back into contention. Before the start of the fourth quarter, Coldwater had four of its starters with four fouls.

However, Coldwater's lead would never get into single digits as the Cardinals held off the late surge.

"We fought back, got back in position, tried to close the gap a little bit," Bowling said. "But, in the end, the gap was too big."

Dashawn Leslie-Tinsley and McCray each had 12 points to lead Harper Creek with Marcus Ransom adding 10.

What's Next?

Harper Creek, which falls to 7-3, missed out on playing down at the Battle Creek Central Fieldhouse over the holidays as its game with Lakeview was moved. The Beavers will get another chance with a non-conference contest against their city rivals on Tuesday. BCC comes into the game on a bit of a roll, winning four of the last six. Coldwater also goes out of conference next to play Grand Ledge.

What they said ...

Coldwater coach Aaron Bucklin: "I don't know if we made a ton of changes (in the second half), we just had to clean up some stuff. We know Harper Creek crashes the glass and we know they like to get out on transition and we did a much better job in the second half of taking care of some of that stuff."

Bill Broderick can be reached at bbroderi@battlecreekenquirer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @billbroderick.

This article originally appeared on Battle Creek Enquirer: Harper goes 'ice cold' as Coldwater wins battle of first place teams

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting