Local SportsJournal.com

BALDWIN — It certainly wasn’t easy, but the Mason County Eastern boys basketball team used a big second half rally to turn back a determined Walkerville team, 52-45, Monday night in the Division 4 district quarterfinal in Baldwin.

Walkerville used hot shooting to lead the first half, but the Cardinals stayed the course and played some solid defense in the second half to gradually eat away at the Wildcats’ lead.
“Eastern came out the second half and played good defense, and we just didn’t take care of the ball,” said Walkerville coach Lee Oomen. “We shot very well in the first half and then came out in the second half and didn’t shoot well at all and had too many turnovers.”
Despite the Wildcats’ sizzling shooting percentage in the first half, the Cardinals didn’t panic.
In fact, according to coach Mark Forner, the players all felt that the Wildcats couldn’t keep up that kind of shooting the entire game.
Eastern got down by 13 points, 35-22 at the half after Walkerville outscored the Cardinals, 22-10 in the first quarter. The Wildcats seemed to have the momentum.
“I told our kids, ‘Hey, you know what? One possession at a time, one defensive stop at a time.’ Man, we were able to do that and close the gap,” Forner said.  “We were down five at the end of the third quarter. Clay Shoup had a big fourth quarter. He scored 10 points. We had a couple of kids who really did a nice job defensively, Ronnie Hasenbank and Zach Howe. The kids were buying what we were selling.”
Eastern successfully cooled down the Wildcats’ offense and limited them to just 10 points in the second half.
Shoup finished the game with 26 points and Howe added 13 for the Cardinals.
Connor Shafer led the Wildcats with 13 points. Zoontae DeLaPaz and Collin Chase scored 10 points apiece. Jordan Oomen and Abdel Lopez added six each.
The Cardinals (7-16) advance to the district semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday where they take on Baldwin (20-1).  Pentwater (10-12) plays Big Rapids Crossroads Academy (0-20) in the first game at 5:30 p.m.