McDonald scores 32 points in Baldwin win over Bear Lake

BALDWIN — It was just too much Deondra McDonald Wednesday night.

The Baldwin junior forward had a career night with 32 points to lead Baldwin (11-5, 11-3) to a 67-59 West Michigan D League win over Bear Lake (10-3, 9-3).

“The key was like it’s been all year, hustle and effort and playing our best team game,” McDonald said. “It was a matter of attacking the basket.”

“McDonald killed us,” Bear Lake coach Garret Waller said. “We didn’t box him out. There’s little things we talk about all year. The main one was free throws and the next one was boxing out. We didn’t do a good job of it.”

The Lakers opened up the game with a full-court press on Baldwin and had early leads. Kaiden Heil had the hot hand early for Bear Lake, and scored nine points in the first quarter. McDonald started getting the hot hand inside for Baldwin, winding up with 15 points in the first eight minutes.

“I remember telling him to focus on basic moves,” Baldwin coach Kevin Dillard said. “He did really well for us. He came through when we needed him.”

Baldwin led 20-17 after the first quarter and the Lakers started struggling offensively in the second. Da’Ron Copeland started scoring off the fast break and had eight second-quarter points, fueling the Panthers to a 35-25 halftime lead.

Trent Johnson opened the second half with a 3-pointer for Bear Lake. Gary McBride’s 3-pointer with 4:54 to play in the third cut Baldwin’s lead to 39-33. Johnson hit another 3-pointer to make it 39-37 as the Panther offense was struggling.

Maleke Palmer scored inside for a 46-39 Baldwin lead with two minutes to go in the third.

Copeland and Palmer both went to the bench with their fourth foul late in the third, not a good sign for Baldwin, which only dressed seven players. It was 50-42, Baldwin, going into the fourth quarter. Neither player wound up fouling out, however.

Jordan Anderson hit two technical foul shots after McDonald was called for slapping the backboard, making it 54-46 at 6:15. McDonald’s 3-point play at 4:48 put Baldwin’s lead at 57-48. Blake Dockery, on a steal, passed to Copeland for a layup and 61-48 advantage midway through the quarter.

The Lakers hung tight and trailed 63-59 at 1:50 on Trent Johnson’s layup following a steal. The Lakers had a chance to cut it more, but missed a shot and Dockery’s two free throws, plus Terrell Rogers’ foul shot, made it a seven-point game and Baldwin ran out the clock.

“I believe in our guys,” Dillard said. “Once we take our time and believe in ourselves, we’ll be all right.”

Dockery added 16 points and Copeland had 11 for Baldwin, Johnson led Bear Lake with 16 points while Heil had 13.

“We took our time and played defense,” Dillard said. “We have to believe in ourselves and know we can play games like this. We’ve been struggling a little bit. It’s time to get back on track for the tournament.”

“We got outhustled and got beat down the floor,” Waller said. “The key was that McDonald killed us.”

It was the first meeting of the season between the two league rivals. They play again at Bear Lake on March 3.

“Every win in the conference is a quality win,” Dillard said. “I’m glad we took this game serious and came out and played good defense in the end.”

“We’ve been lacking confidence as a team,” McDonald said. “We wanted to get this win so we can show the rest of the conference that we’re not pushovers.”

“We have to believe in ourselves, play good defense and play together,” Dillard said.