McBAIN — Northern Michigan Christian, the defending Highland Conference champion, kept itself in the hunt for this year’s title with a 61-56 victory over league front-runner Beal City on Tuesday.

The Aggies fell to 7-2 in the league, a game behind McBain, which was victorious at Manton on Tuesday.

The Comets improved to 6-3 in the league and reversed a season-opening loss at Beal City.

“This was a good win for us,” said NMC coach Kyle Benthem.

“I’m happy for the kids. It came down to the wire and we came out on top. We played aggressively and drew fouls and made our free throws in the fourth quarter and that helped carry us.”

NMC trailed 47-45 going into the fourth quarter and did not gain the lead until midway through the period.

It was still a one-point game with less than two minutes to go when senior Blake DeZeeuw drew a foul and nailed both free throws to give NMC a 59-56 advantage.

“Blake’s two free throws were critical for us,” Benthem said.

Benthem also commended sophomore post Ethan Bennett, who delivered 21 points with 10 rebounds in the contest.

“Ethan’s athletic and strong and he’s learning how to finish,” Benthem said.

DeZeeuw hit for 12 and senior guard Nate Eisenga made 10. Benthem also credited Brant Winkle with taking the ball to the hole and drawing contact to help put the visiting Aggies in foul trouble.

NMC (8-3, 6-3) is home Thursday against Roscommon. | 775-NEWS (6397)