By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – It is a well used cliché – good teams find a way to win.
Now at 13-0, pencil in the Baldwyn Bearcats as good.
Performing flawlessly at times Thursday, the Bearcats found an easy way to throw a 25-1 first half run at the tough Houlka Wildcats en route to a sound 88-35 victory in action at the Baldwyn Rotary Classic.
“My thought on our kids tonight was that they played the game the right way,” Baldwyn head coach Jason McKay said. “Houlka is a good team, and we just got on a roll tonight.”
The contest was in the expected flow through the first part of the opening quarter, with Houlka up 7-6 following a Tyreque Reed 3-pointer. The Wildcats were still within 12-10 after an R. J. Johnson basket.
Then Baldwyn moved into a gear Houlka was unable to handle.
The Bearcats closed the quarter on a 9-1 run, with freshman Duke Upshaw scoring seven points during that stretch, including a rebound and basket at the buzzer for a 21-11 lead.
Then to open the second period, Baldwyn turned its defense into offense. The Bearcats sped to a 16-0 run to open the quarter, with Upshaw and Tevin Lindsey combining for 12 points.
Then to make matters worse for Houlka, Baldwyn closed the half on a 10-0 run, aided by two baskets from Martell Brown, and capped by an Upshaw driving layup, for a 52-15 lead.
“This was an eye-opener for my team,” veteran Houlka coach Jimmy Guy McDonald said. “We played seven seniors last year, and this group is still getting their legs under them.
“Tonight, Baldwyn was a totally different animal for us in quickness and speed. For us, it was a good experience.”
Just for good measure, Lindsey hit three straight 3-pointers to open the third quarter as the Bearcats maintained a nice level of execution out of the locker room.
Upshaw paced Baldwyn with 22 points, while Lindsey added 20.
The Bearcats get a big-school test today, hosting Class 4A Shannon at 7:30 p.m. in Day 2 of the tournament.