Baldwin makes it three straight with rout over Mason County Eastern

CUSTER — A deadly full-court press and a high-scoring second quarter gave Baldwin a 39-11 edge en route to a 72-22 West Michigan D League victory Thursday night at Mason County Eastern.

Brandon Childress scored 29 points and led the Baldwin attack

Baldwin, 3-1, has won three straight.

The Panther defense was able to offset a cold Baldwin offense in the first quarter for a 12-3 lead. Da’Ron Copeland drove to the hoop late in the quarter to spark a nine-point lead.

Childress, with two first-half dunks, had 16 points in a huge second quarter and wound up with 29 for the game. The Cardinals couldn’t score much in the first half and Baldwin took advantage.

With back-court steals off its full-court press and several offensive rebounds, Baldwin couldn’t be stopped. Demetrius Kane came off the bench with 10 second-quarter points to complement the Panther romp. Damon Nichols’ 3-point basket gave Baldwin additional padding to its lead. It was 51-14 at halftime.

“We got off to a slow start, but the kids played way better defense than they have the last three games,” Baldwin coach Kevin Dillard said. “They played great defense and turned it up in the second quarter. We started playing good fundamentals and good basketball.”

Childress had a 3-point play early in the third for a 55-14 lead. Austin Rader, MCE’s key guy in the middle, fouled out midway in the third with only three points. Brenton Childress’ three made it 64-18 at 2:35. Brenton Childress alley-ooped a pass to Brenton for a brotherly slam dunk and 66-18 advantage moments later. It was 68-20 after three. It was running clock in the fourth.

Kane had 12 points while Nichols put in eight and Brenton Childress added seven.

Brandon Childress, who made the list for the Mr. Basketball preseason watch, is off to a huge start, but so are others.

“Damon Nichols is playing well, so is Clay Bowens and Braeden Childress,” Dillard said. “Last few games, we’ve had (multiple players) in double figures.”

The Panthers are planning a scrimmage at Buckley over the holiday break.

The focus over the break is “getting our fundamentals down, get used to the sets and making sure we know where we are on every play and know all the plays so come pushing January, we make sure we can get everything down,” Dillard said.

They resume action with a busy slate the week after New Year’s Day. The Panthers are at Onekama Jan. 6, home with Brethren Jan. 8 and at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian Jan. 10.

“We’re not where we could be yet,” Dillard said. “We have great potential. We want to get used to each other through practices. I think we’re going to be OK through our second-half run.”