Adams covered the Ubly vs. Cass City contest Monday night.
Here is his report.
CASS CITY — The only thing separating Ubly from a Greater Thumb East championship was a matter of a few minutes near the end of a couple of games.
Finally, though, the Bearcats (17-4) seem to have their late-game woes taken care of.
They closed out Cass City (9-12) to earn a 58-39 decision in the first round of the Class C district tournament on Monday night.
Ubly entered the fourth quarter leading just 35-33, but opened on an 11-2 run — and the Red Hawks never recovered.
“With the way we’ve been playing, I thought we’ve been getting better all the time,” said Ubly coach Ken Pichla.
“The four games we lost we had leads and didn’t finish what we started. Now, the boys are finishing well, they’re making good decisions at the end of games.”
Tyler Peruski opened the fourth quarter with a layup, followed by a Marshall Leipprandt step-back triple to make it 40-33 with 5:52 to play.
“We lost him on that,” said Cass City coach Jim Green. “That’s a credit to Leipprandt. He’s a good player, he didn’t force it. He played within himself. When his team needed a big shot, he stepped out and hit it.”
The Bearcats led 22-20 at the break, but the third quarter saw the teams exchange jabs and the lead with each other.
By the end of the period, the lead changed hands eight times and there was one tie.
Senior Cameron Dunnuck did his best to keep Cass City in it during the third, as he scored 10 of his team-leading 16 points.
“Dunnuck kept us in the game with some outstanding inside play,” Green said. “To Ubly’s credit, they adjusted and double-teamed him. After that, we weren’t able to find another option.”
The Red Hawks built their biggest lead of the game after Dunnuck split a pair of free throws to put them up 31-28 with 3:45 to play in the third.
Ubly responded with a 7-2 spurt to end the quarter, including a three-point play from Leipprandt.
After struggling with Cass City’s defense in the first half, Leipprandt was able to notch a game-high 20 points, including 12 in the second half.
“It was a nice game plan by coach Green, going box-and-one on him,” Pichla said. “It worked for a time, but then Marshall was able to break it down.”
Green knew coming in, his team was going to have its hands full with the Bearcats.
“Ubly is a tough matchup, they’re big, strong and athletic,” he said. “They execute their game plan well. We knew we had to execute our game plan well. I thought we had a good effort, but there was a stretch that they stopped us a couple times.”
Lenny Nowicki and Josh White each added eight points for Ubly while Eric Booms and Brandon Glaza each chipped in seven points.
Justin Ketterer added 10 points for the Red Hawks.
Ubly advances to play its old rival, Harbor Beach, (15-4) at 6 p.m. in Harbor Beach on Wednesday.
The teams split their regular season meetings, with each defending home court.
The Bearcats’ 55-48 loss at Harbor Beach on Feb. 4 was their last of the season. Including Monday’s win, they have won nine straight.
Pichla thinks his players learned a lot in that game.
“We had a lead with about a minute to go in the game,” he said. “But that was at a time of the year when we weren’t finishing well.
“Give Harbor Beach credit, they’re a scrappy, well-coached basketball team.
“Those were two completely different games. They played us different the second time, they went to more of a zone. They want to slow the game down and control the pace.
“We like the up-tempo if we can get it, but we’re better at playing the slow down game than we were then. I think we will put on a better show than we did the last time.”
|Cass City’s Cameron Dunnuck (21) attempts to block the shot of Ubly’s Brandon Glaza during the first half.|
|Cass City’s Justin Ketterer is fouled by Ubly’s Josh White (52).|