McBain stays atop Highland

February 8, 2019

By Aaron Michell

Come Wednesday morning, McBain found themselves on top of the Highland Conference with a perfect 7-0 record.

But it wasn’t an easy week getting there, as they narrowly defeated the Manton Rangers Tuesday night, 45-42, to follow up on a 57-56 victory over Beal City on Friday.

In Friday night’s matchup at Beal City, the Ramblers found themselves down by five points with just over two minutes to go.

Great execution, along with stymying defense led the Rambler comeback.

“The key to this win was probably just being confident and determined,” said head coach Bruce Koopman. “We fought back by defending and rebounding and executing, however we were fortunate because we shot 2-8 from the free throw line over the last 16 seconds of the game.”

Daniel Rodenbaugh led McBain with 18 points. Garrett VerBerkmoes added 17, and Connor Murphy chipped in with 12 – including 10 fourth quarter points.

Although Koopman was happy with his team’s effort, he knows there’s still work to be done.

“We really need to take better care of the ball going forward,” he said. “And we need to learn how to grind on offense.”

After the hard-fought win at Beal, the Ramblers won in dramatic fashion over Manton on Tuesday night, 45-42.

With 7 seconds remaining and the score tied at 42, Murphy dribbled the length of the court, hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to give McBain the victory in front of the home crowd.

“Like the Beal City game, when Conner hit two 3s down the stretch to help us win the game,” Koopman said. “[Tonight] he hits a three at the buzzer to win the game.”

To go with Murphy’s heroics, McBain clamped down defensively, holding Manton to only one 3-point field goal through the entire 4th quarter.

“The key to this game was the defense in the fourth quarter,” Koopman said. “We also played well enough on defense to commit only three fouls and not put them on the free throw line. Our rebounding got better as well.”

VerBerkmoes led the way for the Ramblers with 18 points. Murphy finished with 9, and Rodenbaugh, 8.

McBain [11-2 overall; 7-0 Highland] travels to Pine River on Friday.

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