With win over Battle Creek Central, Harper Creek boys basketball has swept the city so far

·4 min read

Harper Creek has played three other city teams so far this year and now the Beavers have three wins in those games.

Harper Creek defeated city rival Battle Creek Central, 69-58, in a non-conference boys basketball contest at the BCC Fieldhouse on Tuesday.

Here are five takeaways from Tuesday's game:

Sweeping the City (So Far)

Harper Creek earned its fourth straight win over Battle Creek Central, over the span of five seasons, which gives the Beavers a big advantage in that series. And Harper Creek also currently has bragging rights over the rest of the teams in the city on their schedule as well. The Beavers beat Lakeview in December and they beat Pennfield in early January.

Harper Creek won't play Class D St. Philip or Calhoun Christian this year and does have a second game against Pennfield coming up, but so far the Beavers have swept the city and sit at 8-3 overall.

"I grew up playing with some of those guys at Battle Creek and they tried to get in my head, but I had my team with me and we came out and put it to them and came out on top," Harper Creek senior Julion McCray said. "This is pretty sweet because we knew if we won it, we would have swept the city. So coming down to the Fieldhouse and getting that done is pretty nice."

Harper Creek senior Zane Bowling (10) shoots the ball at the Battle Creek Central Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
Harper Creek senior Zane Bowling (10) shoots the ball at the Battle Creek Central Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

3 & D

Both teams were looking to pressure the ball all over the court, using their athletic guards to disrupt the opposing offense wherever they could. Each did a good job of doing that, keeping the easy shots to a minimum. When both teams did get an open look, they were knocking down 3-pointers.

Harper Creek’s Zane Bowling hit two 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the second half as the Beavers opened the third quarter with a 10-0 run to lead 36-22 with 5:22 remaining in the period.

Then Battle Creek Central’s defense took over as its full-court press sped up the game, forcing missed layups and turnovers by Harper Creek. The Bearcats went on a 17-2 run, finished off by three straight layups by Kylon Wilson to cut the lead to 40-39 with :36 left in the third quarter.

It turned out that Harper Creek would have the final run as the Beavers responded with another 12-2 spurt to regain a double-digit lead at 54-42 after Dashawn Leslie-Tinsley finished off a fast break with a layup and getting the foul for a traditional three-point play.

Bowling and McCray each had 14 points to lead Harper Creek, with Leslie-Tinsley adding 12 points and eight rebounds.

"Defense was pretty good tonight, both teams were playing some good D, but we also hit some shots and when we can hit some shots, we are pretty tough to defend," Harper Creek coach Matt Bowling said. "Credit to them for not allowing us to have that knockout blow, but credit our guys for not letting them come all the way back. We kind of had a stiff-arm situation on them the rest of the evening."

Ke'Marion Tucker had a team-high 23 points for the Bearcats, who fall to 6-5, with Wilson adding 20.

Harper Creek senior Julion McCray (11) attempts a basket as Battle Creek Central junior Mark Lane (15) covers him at the Battle Creek Central Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
Harper Creek senior Julion McCray (11) attempts a basket as Battle Creek Central junior Mark Lane (15) covers him at the Battle Creek Central Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

Historic Fieldhouse

Visiting teams look forward to playing at the historic Battle Creek Central Fieldhouse. Harper Creek missed out on its chance to play downtown over the holidays when its game against Lakeview was moved.

The Beavers were able get on Chuck Turner Court on Tuesday as the intensity seems to always climb for visiting teams.

"Any time you can come down to the Fieldhouse and get a win, you have to savor it and enjoy it because of all the history that is here and the nostalgia," Bowling said. "You look up and see the banners and see all the Battle Creek old-timers in the crowd and it's nice to play well in front of those guys."

What's Next?

After an emotional string of games, playing two city rivals and competing in two contests with first place on the line, Harper Creek will see the schedule lighten up. However, if the Beavers want to stay in the Interstate 8 Conference conversation, they need to take care of business on the road at Parma Western on Friday. BCC is set for five straight road games next, including stops at rivals Benton Harbor and Lakeview.

What they said ...

BCC coach Durant Crum: "We keep telling ourselves that we have to do better early, we can't continue to put ourselves in holes like we did tonight. We seem to play harder when we are behind, but I'm not sure that is a good recipe for success."

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

This article originally appeared on Battle Creek Enquirer: With win over BCC, Harper Creek has swept the city so far