Panthers press their way past Onekama

BALDWIN — It was too much Karlos Perez and too much Baldwin defensive pressure for the Onekama Portagers Tuesday night.

Perez had 30 points while Andon Ware added 13 and seven rebounds to lead undefeated Baldwin to a 61-34 victory in West Michigan D League boys basketball action over Onekama.

The Panthers are 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the league. Onekama is 1-4 both overall and in the league.

Joe Eno led Onekama with nine points while Kyle Acker added eight.

“The pressure is what saved us,” said Baldwin coach Scott Pedigo. “With our half-court offense, we couldn’t get anything right. It was our defensive pressure. At the end, when we spread the floor on them and made them come out of their zone, that hurt them.”

Perez drove the baseline all night long for most of his points and tormented the Portagers. It was one point below his season high.

“My teammates gave me good passes and I was open,” Perez said.

“When we spread the floor like that, they’re such a zone team that when they had to go to man, it got them out of what they do well,” Pedigo said. “That was big for us.”

“We tried to do things up front and he’s a good type of finisher off the back end of the press that I’d like to have,” said Portager coach Jim Hunter. “But he’s smooth and dominated in the post a couple of times.”

Baldwin took a 27-20 halftime lead into the third quarter and led 31-22 on two quick hoops by Perez. Perez scored two more hoops and Ware bolted inside for a bucket at 2:15 for a 37-24 advantage. Brandon Childress’ full-court drive gave the Panthers a 39-26 lead with 30 seconds left in the quarter.

Perez, who scored 10 points in the quarter, had a putback at the buzzer for a 41-26 lead. He opened the fourth quarter with another drive for two and converted at 5:55 for a 47-28 lead. Devon Sparks-Burrell, off a dribble past from Childress, made it 49-28 moments later.

Meanwhile, the Portagers continued to struggle with the ball and on the boards.

Alex Welch hit a triple for Onekama at 2:50 of the fourth but the Panthers were in command, 55-31.

Baldwin’s full-court pressure started nagging the Portagers midway in the second quarter. Perez scored two quick baskets off steals for a 23-16 lead. He had six points in each of the first two quarters. Onekama suffered a key loss when Quinn Matthews suffered an eye injury in the second quarter and had to leave the game.

“The press bothered us. We lost our point guard when he got poked in the eye,” Hunter said. “We were playing kids out of position. I give Kyle Acker a lot of credit, he was playing center for us and he had to go play point guard. That’s not an easy combination.”

Acker, Derek Hobart and Eno had four points a piece in the first quarter. Ware scored seven points in the opening quarter to give Baldwin a 15-14 lead.

“It was a physical game,” Hunter said. “The refs let it be a physical game. Their quickness in that kind of a game played to their advantage and our disadvantage. We’re not very fast.”

The slow start bothered Pedigo.

“It was like our effort was in practice,” he said. “We forget where we came from and that we were 3-18 last year. We have to realize the work and effort was down and it showed tonight. We were lucky to get out of here with a win. It doesn’t show it with the score. But we played so poorly we could have let them taken a win from us.”

Baldwin plays Brethren on the road Thursday. Onekama is at Frankfort Tuesday

“The way we played tonight, I’m afraid of everyone we see every night,” Pedigo said. “If we have a performance like this at Brethren, we’ll pay for it.”

Perez agreed.

“We came out with a bad practice the day before,” Perez said. “Like the coach said, we play like we practice. It showed in the game. It showed in the beginning. We only had a good four mintues of solid running.

“We have to step our intensity up in practice. We still got the W. But we didn’t win in a good way.”