Baldwin defeats Northport in season finale

BALDWIN — Baldwin ended its home season with a non-league victory but Northport made the Panthers earn it.

Baldwin beat Northport 45-14 in the first boys basketball game of the season. Thursday night, in the regular-season finale for both teams, Karlos Perez scored 31 points while Andon Ware added 17 and Brandon Childress had 15 in an 83-53 triumph.

“I think they were thinking about the first game of the season,” said Baldwin coach Scott Pedigo. “I tried to tell them ahead of time that people change from the first to last game. Hopefully, we’ve changed. Up there, it was the first game of the season for both of us. They’re shooting a lot better.”

Bill Stowe had 20 points for Northport.

“We’ve had a rough season, I don’t have a lot of guys,” said Northport coach Todd Huck. “The first half, we played well and we played with them. Baldwin plays good defense and took care of business in the second half.”

Leading 33-22 at halftime, the Panthers got a quick 6-0 spurt to open the third quarter on baskets from Perez and Devon Sparks-Burrell, who hit a pair.

Martel Forest’s steal and basket made it 45-26 at 4:20. Ware drove the baseline at 1:35 for a 53-32 lead. It was 59-35 after three. Forest had another steal and basket for a 63-38 lead with 6:25 to play.

Perez had two back-to-back slam dunks for a 77-51 lead at 1:30 and added a jumper moments later.

In the first quarter, Perez netted six points in sparking his squad to an early 8-4 lead. It was 13-8 after the first eight minutes. Ian Machir scored early in the second for the Wildcats to narrow Baldwin’s lead to 15-13. Daekwon Fisher had a steal and basket late in the second quarter for a 31-19 lead.

“I told them at halftime I was embarrassed with our effort,” said Pedigo. “I didn’t think our effort was there. We scored 50 points in the second half. It’s nice on parents’ night to get all the seniors in.”

Baldwin, 14-6, played Wednesday at McBain Northern Michigan Christian against the host school in a Class D district semifinal game. Northport’s regular season ends at 3-17.

“We’ll have to make it a high-speed up temp game, Pedigo said. “I can see them coming out into a 3-2 zone sitting on us. We’ll have to pressure them and make it a half-court game. I don’t know how well we’ll offensively rebound with their size, Karlos is probably the only guy taller than their starters.

“We have to make big shots and make the plays. We’ll have to box out.”

Buckley plays Marion in the other district semifinal. Pedigo expects Buckley to be in the finals.

“I think McBain Christian is the favorite,” Pedigo said. “They won it here last year and they didn’t lose anyone significant. We played them in the finals here last year. If we get our emotions up we can play intensely enough to win that game. Can we keep our emotions in check and play smart basketball at the same time?”

Perez had 13 rebounds and Ware added 10.

“We did what we had to do, but we’re slowing down and slacking a little bit,” said Baldwin’s Martel Forest. “Coach had to talk to us in the locker room and get us to focus.”

But considering the Panthers were 3-18 a year ago, Forest was happy with what this year’s squad accomplished.

“It’s been a good season,” he said. “We’re getting ready for districts. If we work together and do what we have to do, we’re going to win this. McBain (NMC) has bigger people than us, but they don’t have as much heart.”

Forest said his favorite game this season was beating Covert.

“They’re a running team and I like to run,” he said.