BELDING — Tri County’s boys basketball team is heading to the district finals, and they can thank Devin Longoria for that.
The senior jump-started a stagnant offense and helped the Vikings to a 58-46 win over the Chippewa Hills Warriors Wednesday night in the Class B district tournament at Belding.
“It’s a big win for our program,” said Tri County coach Chad Gould. “We had points in the season where we struggled, we finished 6-14 and looking back we lost five games by five points or less. So a couple of big wins by double digits.”
Tri County (8-14) also dispatched Central Montcalm on Monday.
The Warriors (6-15) started out with a 7-2 run over the first 2:39 of the opening quarter.
“I think we were nerved up a little bit,” Gould said. “We prepared for them to play 2-3 zone and they came out with that, went to man and went back to the 2-3 and I think we were a little flustered by that.”
The Vikings then went on an 11-2 run over the next 2:32 for a 13-9 lead. Chippewa Hills scored the last three points to trail 13-12 after eight minutes.
Then Longoria took over, going on a personal 10-4 run on the Warriors over the first 3:44 of the second quarter.
“Everybody knows he’s our big gunner,” Gould said of Longoria. “The other night against Central Montcalm they came out in a diamond-and-one and (Wednesday night) Chip Hills it looked like to me were going to a zone and manning up on him. For him to step up the way he does is good because he’s doing it on one leg total.”
Gould said Longoria has ankle problems on both sides and didn’t practice Tuesday night, instead icing his ankles.
Meanwhile the Viking defense held the Warriors to just 10 points for a 34-22 lead at halftime.
“What we wanted to do is get the ball inside and get it low,” Gould said. “In the first half we were 5-of-9 from three(-point range) and I told them we needed to attack the basket because you can get cold from the three at any time.”
Tri County did, not hitting a three the rest of the game.
Both sides scored 12 points in each of the last two quarters to finish the game.
Longoria ended up with 18 points to lead the Vikings. Mitch Goerner and Brandon Peterman each added 10 to the win.
Colton Conley led Chippewa Hills with 16 and Dustin Shaw had 12..
The Vikings will face Sparta in the district final Friday night.
“We have to play focused and mistake-free basketball,” Gould said. “We’re going to have to play one of our better games to beat them. They’re a good basketball team. We know what they can do. We’ll be prepared. In 52 years Tri County has won four districts. The kids are ready. They’re focused and ready to go. If we worry about what we do and not worry about them we’ll be OK.”
TRI COUNTY 58, CHIPPEWA HILLS 46
Chip Hills 12 10 12 12 — 46
Tri County 13 21 12 12 — 58
CHIP HILLS (6-15) — Lewandowski 2 1-2 5, Hollenbeck 0 0-2 0, Shaw 4 2-2 12, Tarbell 1 3-4 5, Key 1 0-1 2, Denslow 1 0-0 2, Johnson 2 0-0 4, Conley 8 0-3 16. Totals: 19 6-14 46. Three-point goals: Shaw 2. Total fouls: 16. Fouled out: none.
TRI COUNTY (7-14) — Swaney 1 0-0 2, Dailey 1 0-0 2, Hawley 2 0-0 5, Goerner 5 0-2 10, Thurston 3 3-6 9, Longoria 7 2-3 18, Peterman 3 2-2 10, Thielke 1 0-0 2. Totals: 23 7-13 58. Three-point goals: Hawley, Longoria 2, Peterman 2. Total fouls: 14. Fouled out: none.