Baldwin boys down Manistee Catholic Central to reach district final

MANISTEE — Baldwin advanced to its Class D boys basketball district championship game, and it did so in familiar fashion, defeating Manistee Catholic Central 56-34 in the district semifinal on March 9.

The Panthers ended the Sabers’ season for the fourth consecutive year.

Blake Dockery led the way for the Panthers with 22 points, and Da’ron Copeland added 10 in a game that was more of a struggle on the floor than the score would suggest.

The Sabers hung around early, trailing Baldwin 15-13 halfway through the second quarter.

But the Panthers opened up a 25-15 halftime lead by running the floor, closing out the half on a 10-2 run, with eight of those 10 points coming on the fast break.

Baldwin coach Kevin Dillard said the early struggles were all mental.

“I just think we sometimes get lackadaisical and don’t do what we practice,” Dillard said. “It’s stressful on the bench sometimes. In the end, we were successful, but I want them to come out and start playing at the beginning of the game.”

Dockery scored eight of his points in the third quarter, including the last four on a pull-up jumper in transition and a fast-break layup that gave the Panthers a healthy 38-26 cushion going into the fourth.

Baldwin’s defense took over down the stretch, allowing just three Saber field goals in the fourth quarter until the benched emptied in Catholic Central’s last game of the season.

Sabers coach Mike Feliczak said his team was beaten largely in the paint.

“Their rebounding and inside game gave us trouble,” Feliczak said. “We knew that would be the case, we’re a little undersized and they have a little depth at the post position, also. After a while, they just wore us down.”

The win put Baldwin in Friday’s title game with Brethren. (See related story.)