MIDDLEFIELD–Defense was the key down the stretch for Cardinal in winning its first sectional title since 2010 with a 56-45 victory over visiting Grand Valley on Friday.
The Huskies, who improved to 14-10 overall and advanced to the district semifinals, held off the hard-charging Mustangs in the fourth quarter to seal their win. Grand Valley used an 11-0 run to climb back into the game.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, we’ve been in a lot of close game situations,” said Cardinal coach Jon Cummins. “We’re still a younger group and are still learning and we made a lot of mistakes tonight. Fortunately, Grand Valley wasn’t able to capitalize off of them.”
The Huskies quickly fed off of the home crowd and opened the game on a 9-0 run. Cardinal took a 16-9 lead into the second quarter.
Cardinal kept up its aggressive play in the second quarter and led by as many as 10 points before settling for a 30-21 advantage at the break.
The Huskies controlled the third quarter and extended their lead to 44-29 with eight minutes left in the game.
That’s when the Mustangs went on their run to make things interesting down the stretch.
“It starts with making open shots,” said Grand Valley coach Justin Turk. “Those first three quarters, we couldn’t buy a bucket. When you start making shots, that is when you are able to make a comeback.”
The Huskies kept their composure in the closing minutes to seal the win.
“I told the guys to just believe in themselves,” Cummins said. “Defensively, we just want to get into guys a little bit more and fight over picks.”
Troy Domen led the Huskies with 15 points, Jake Bean finished with 14, and Ethan Detweiler added 13. Tony and Josh Soltis, and Paul Gall each pitched in six.
“I think keeping cool and staying efficient and listening to coach, making sure our fundamentals are fine, is the only way to get through that,” Detwiler said of the 11-point run Grand Valley made in the fourth.
The Mustangs knew shot-making was a factor over the course of the game.
“Coach told us our shot difference in that second quarter was completely different,” said Grand Valley’s Nate Boiarski. “That’s kind of how we lost (the game).”
With the win, Cardinal will play Campbell Memorial in the district semifinals at Warren Howland on Tuesday.
Boiarski led Grand Valley with a team-high 14 points. Logan Zirzow added 11, with nine fourth-quarter points. Caden Vatty contributed with six and Ethan Spencer and Hagan Hejduk each finished with five. Robert Rodgers scored four points.