Baldwin hands Onekama its first loss of the season

BALDWIN — It had all the emotion and drama of a March tournament game.

But the West Michigan D League title was at stake Wednesday night when undefeated Onekama squared off against defending boys basketball conference champion Baldwin.

Brandon Childress scored 25 points, while Da’Ron Copeland added 16 in an 81-62 Baldwin victory.

Baldwin avenged a 61-59 loss at Onekama earlier this season and handed the Portagers, 15-1, their first loss.

“I thought we could have played a little bit better, but I’m glad they came out and wanted to win,” Baldwin coach Kevin Dillard said. “The second half, they put the defense up.”

Baldwin is 13-1 with two games left in the league, and 14-4 overall.

Onekama, ranked eighth in the Associated Press’ Class D state poll, is 13-1 with two conference games to go.

“I thought the kids came out and battled,” Onekama coach Nate Bradford said. “Both teams were going up and down, playing extremely hard. Baldwin would get hot, make a run on us and we responded and would get back to within a few. But it seemed like every time we’d get close, they would hit another two or a three.”

The offenses were in high gear for the first half with Baldwin holding a 43-36 lead.

In the first quarter, Baldwin fired out to an 11-3 lead with Braeden Childress driving for a pair of field goals. Da’Ron Copeland and Miguel Mahan hit a pair of triples to keep Baldwin slightly ahead, but Jarett Sovereign drained a pair of threes and Jonathan Eno had a 3-pointer for Onekama, which trailed 20-16 after the first quarter.

Brandon Childress had a drive to pace the Panthers to a 28-19 lead early in the second.

Sovereign had another three for the Portagers but the Panthers were able to maintain the leads with 3-pointers of their own including a pair from Damon Nichols and one apiece for Braeden Childress and Copeland.

Braeden Childress hobbled off the court late in the second quarter and didn’t return until later in the third quarter, but didn’t play in the fourth.

Brandon Childress hit a pair of drives to open the second half. Copeland followed with two baskets for a 51-36 lead. Brandon Childress’ second slam dunk of the game at 3:20 made it 58-41. Jonathan Acton had a triple and field goal to keep Onekama close. Sovereign’s 3-pointer off the glass made it 58-46 at 1:30. It was 61-49 going into the third.

Copeland’s triple at 6:12 put Baldwin up 67-53. Deandre McDonald scored at 4:15 for a 71-56 lead. Neither team could score until Brandon Childress’ drive put Baldwin up 73-59 at 2:09. Two Demetrius Kane free throws put the game away at 1:10 with a 77-61 lead.

“I’ll give my guys credit,” Bradford said. “I can’t complain. The guys played hard. Baldwin played hard, too.”

Mahan scored 12 points and Demetrius Kane added 10 for Baldwin.

“We came out with more intensity this time because we had a chip on our shoulder,” Copeland said, referring to the loss at Onekama. “We had our full team back. No game is perfect. There’s room for improvement no matter what.”

“We were coming off the break and were kind of sluggish and some people didn’t come to practice,” Dillard said. “I think that showed on the court (at Onekama). But we gave them a little more effort.”

Acton led Onekama with 18 points, while Sovereign scored 17 and Caleb Wisniski added eight points while also bringing down 14 boards.

“I told the guys now we have to regroup and see how we respond after a loss,” Bradford said. 

The Baldwin JVs won 45-36. Blake Dockery scored 13 points for Baldwin.