Baldwin boys clinch share of league title with win over Mesick

BALDWIN—Baldwin boys basketball will be champions of the West Michigan D League in 2022-23 after clinching at least a share of the title with their win on Friday.

Heading into Friday night, the Panthers' closest opponent was Mesick, who sits at 11-3 in conference play on the year. If the Panthers could successfully dispatch the Bulldogs, they would claim at least a share of the league title. They would accomplish that feat with a 56-51 win. Baldwin advances to 18-1 on the season and remains undefeated in conference play at 15-0.

"It means a lot. It's my fourth year here and we've always competed for league, won it a couple of years ago," Coach JJ Eads said. "Mesick won it easily last year, we knew they were probably the team to beat this year along with Marion and to knock those guys off twice each is a lot. Means a lot to this group, we've come a long ways since last year. I'm really proud of them that they're guaranteed to get at least one banner up this year."

It was a tight battle throughout the evening, with Baldwin and Mesick trading momentum throughout the first half. Baldwin won the first quarter 14-10, but Mesick closed the gap to 25-24 at the end of the first half.

Mesick would shoot out to an early lead in the third quarter, but a switch flipped for the Panthers on the defensive end. SJ Hossler, Carmelo Lindsey and Jalen'e Allen all got steals that turned into baskets. Heading into the fourth Baldwin led 38-37. The defense continued to excel in the fourth and Mesick got in foul trouble, allowing Baldwin to pull away.

"We switched up our defense and we came back and didn't have the same pressure," Eads said. "They started making a run to get back in. So we kind of buckled down again and just worked on our man-to-man defense to finish the game."

David Lee led the Panthers in scoring with 15 points, Louie Jackson had 14 points Carmelo Lindey had 13 and SJ Hossler had 12 in the balanced effort. A few Panthers gave their thoughts on earning a share of the league title.

"Last year we didn't really get a chance to win the title. Just coming up this year we really wanted to win it." Carmelo Lindsey said.

"Winning it was real nice, especially against Mesick. Last year we kind of went through a struggle and this year we improved." David Lee said.

Baldwin will head to Bear Lake on Friday.