Baldwin roars past Mason County Eastern

BALDWIN — This game was over in a hurry.

Baldwin’s offense came out flying from the opening tipoff and rolled past Mason County Eastern 69-36 in West Michigan D League boys basketball action on Tuesday.

Da’Ron Copeland exploded for 30 points including 17 in the first quarter for a Panther team (3-0, 3-1) that led 35-11 at halftime against the Cardinals (0-2, 0-2).

While the Cardinals struggled to hit their shots, the Panthers could hardly miss, at least in the first quarter. Copeland netted three triples and four field goals, and Ahmad Goram added a pair of threes in the first quarter for a 27-8 Baldwin lead.

“When Da’Ron is out there, he keeps the spark going,” Baldwin coach Kevin Dillard said. “I was pleased that he kept us going. I was trying to get different guys in there to see how they work together.”

It was a career high scoring night for Copeland.

“I just wanted to give 100 percent on the court for my team and I came out feeling good,” he said. “I was into it. They started falling and I kept going.”

The shooting cooled off for Baldwin in the second quarter ,but the Cardinals couldn’t hit until Austin Rader’s 3-point play with 45.6 seconds left in the second quarter.

“It’s kind of hard to keep up with the momentum you have and carry it to the next quarter and even the next half,” Copeland said. “It’s a mental thing and you have to keep yourself into it.”

Goram hit two field goals to open the third quarter for a 39-11 lead. Blake Dockery’s 3-pointer moments later made it 44-13. Copeland later hit two 3-pointers. It was 61-21 after three quarters.

“I was very impressed with our start,” Dillard said. “We came out focused and ready to go. I was happy with our second unit that came out there and played for me.”

Goram and Deondra McDonald both scored 10 for Baldwin. Mason Saya had 10 for Mason County Eastern, all in the third quarter.

Baldwin plays Thursday night at Onekama in league action.

“We’re getting better,” Copeland said. “Since we have a young team, we have to learn each other more and get our chemistry up. But we’re playing all right.”

Although he’s had some huge scoring nights, Copeland has been trying to get others into the act.

“I try to be a leader for the team,” he said. “I take shots when I need to. But I pass when I need to. I’m trying to do all I can as a leader.”

Baldwin split with Onekama last season and shared the league title with the Portagers.

“We have to give 100 percent,” Copeland said. “We have to play defense. Everyone is going to have to play their assignment and everyone is going to have to hustle.”