BIG RAPIDS — Strong team defense and 32 points from Tate Wickes for Crossroads Charter Academy led the Cougars to a 61-55 West Michigan D League victory over Baldwin on Thursday.

It was Wickes’ career high.

“This is a huge game for us,” CCA coach Jason Kostecki said. “We’ve lost two games in the last minute when we were up and couldn’t close them out. We have as good of an athletic basketball team as anyone. I think they saw that.”

Wickes scored consistently throughout the game for CCA, which finished the first half strong for a 31-27 lead at the intermission.

Da’Ron Copeland scored 12 points in the first quarter to lead Baldwin (5-3, 5-2) to an 18-12 advantage. Wickes scored off a steal to cut Baldwin’s lead to 21-16 at 5:46. Baldwin led 27-26, but the Cougars (3-3, 3-2) finished the quarter with a 3-pointer by Brooks Angell and a basket at the buzzer by Jackson Wickes.

The Panthers continued to struggle with their shooting and ball handling, and CCA opened the third quarter with a 10-0 run. Luke Zandstra’s layup made it 41-27 at 2:10. Deondra McDonald’s free throw at 1:10 was Baldwin’s first point of the second half. CCA was up 43-33 after the third quarter.

Baldwin rallied to cut it to 45-43 on Blake Dockery’s layup at 6:17. Tate Wickes’ two free throws at 2:54 padded the CCA lead to 54-45. Ahmad Gorman’s layup cut it to 58-55 with 15 seconds lef,t but Copeland was called for an intentional foul and CCA sealed the win.

Angell scored 10 for CCA.

“Ben Martinez played one whale of a game defensively,” Kostecki said. “He was on the floor getting the ball and he brought the ball up the floor great for us when they were covering Tate.”

“I don’t think we gave our full effort and recognized who was doing what during the game,” Baldwin coach Kevin Dillard said. “On offense, we didn’t play the way we normally play.”

A postponement against Bear Lake because of the weather earlier in the week may have had an impact, Dillard said.

“We have to keep things going,” Dillard said.

Copeland led Baldwin with 30 points, while Dockery had 12 and McDonald 11.

“We knew going in they were going to run their offense around Da’Ron,”  Kostecki said. “He’s a great player. I thought we did very well for the most part, contesting their shots. I challenged Tate in the third quarter to shut (Copeland down. He had zero points in the third.”

Kalamazoo Phoenix 77, Baldwin 60

Baldwin fell to 5-4 overall on the road Tuesday with a nonleague loss to Kalamazoo Phoenix.

McDonald had 19 points, followed by Dockery with 13 and Copeland with 11.

“We were in the game for awhile and hanging in there, but down the stretch we lost our focus,” Dillard said. “We have to be better at fundamentals and team chemistry.”

Baldwin is home Jan. 27 against Pentwater.