PETOSKEY — Back on top.
Cadillac vaulted itself back into first place in the Big North Conference boys basketball race with a huge 65-59 win at Petoskey on Thursday night.
The Vikings (14-2 overall) are 7-2 in the conference with just one game — at Alpena on Feb. 28 — remaining on their slate.
Traverse City Central (6-2) is just a half-game back with two games — vs. rival TC West on Feb. 28 and vs. Alpena on March 5 — left.
Even more than the conference implications is the late-season boost of confidence Cadillac got with the win.
"Winning on the road in this league is really hard," Cadillac coach Ryan Benzenberg said. "To do it with both teams playing for something makes it even harder."
Petoskey led 18-17 after the first quarter Thursday before the Vikings turned up the pressure…with a zone defense of all things.
It allowed Cadillac to outscore the Northmen 22-8 in the second quarter for a 39-26 halftime lead.
"We went to our zone defense and it really took them a while to figure out what to do with it," Benzenberg said. "We had struggled to rebound out of that this season but, thankfully, we figured out how to do that tonight."
Cadillac still led 45-36 going into the fourth quarter before making free throws and grabbing rebounds down the stretch to secure the win.
Sophomore Cole Jenema paced the Vikings with 20 points and 16 rebounds while Tipp Baker added 13 points and five assists. Logan Wilde had 13 points while Levi Klotz had nine. Evan Borr scored seven points and David Johns grabbed seven rebounds.
"I thought Cole took a step tonight and grew up another step. That's a big-boy game against a super-physical team," Benzenberg said. "I thought Tipp was awesome in the press break because we were facing some adversity.
"David had some big rebounds and Brady McLaurin stepped in and gave us great minutes."
• Petoskey won the JV game 58-41. Collin Johnston paced Cadillac with eight points while Connor McGowan had seven.
• Cadillac won the freshman game 52-32. Davin Brown paced the Vikings (16-1) with 14 points while Derek Rood scored 10, Bailey Wade had eight and Keenan Marr eight.