KALAMAZOO — Benton Harbor's boys basketball team couldn't keep up with hot-shooting Flint Beecher at Saturday's Don Jackson Holiday Classic at Kalamazoo Central.
Beecher defeated the Tigers 76-62, handing Benton Harbor just its fourth loss in the past three seasons.
"We just can't turn the ball over," Benton Harbor coach Corey Sterling said. "A lot of mental errors that are fixable. That's what positive about this 'L'. I was telling the guys, when we won the state championship, we learned from each loss we took. We only took one loss that season, but that's why schedule tough games like this, to prepare ourselves."
Benton Harbor (6-1) rarely led, but stayed close throughout the first half and trailed just 35-31 at halftime. Beecher (4-1) opened the second half on an 8-0 run, started with two 3-pointers by Keyon Meifield.
Carlos Johnson responded with two straight 3-pointers for Benton Harbor to cut the margin back to six, but the Tigers couldn't get any closer. Johnson had a huge night, finishing with 32 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
"Carlos is a special player," Sterling said. "He did what he could for us tonight. We didn't lay down. Even towards the end when it was getting bleak, we finished the game strong."
Beecher regained the momentum on a driving dunk by standout guard Jalen Terry, who finished with 19 points. The dunk was Terry's only basket in the second half as he was injured late in the third quarter. He briefly returned in the fourth.
Without Terry, the Buccaneers turned to Earnest Sanders to put away the game. Sanders scored 15 of his team-high 28 points in the fourth, including a pair of late dunks.
Beecher was 10 for 19 on the game on 3-pointers, including five in the first half by Terry and another three in the second by Meifield, who finished with 15 points.
"Beecher made shots tonight," Sterling said. "You have to tip your hat, they made their shots. There wasn't anything surprising we didn't already know. They played well."
Quindarius Davis added 13 points for Benton Harbor. The Tigers are still looking to get more consistent offense from players other than Johnson.
"Any given night, it can be any one of our players as far as the second-leading scorer," Sterling said. "Right now we've just got to stay aggressive on defense and take the shots that are open."
Flint Beecher 76, Benton Harbor 62
FLINT BEECHER (76)
Keyon Meifield 5 2-2 15, Jalen Terry 7 0-0 19, Earnest Sanders 12 3-6 28, Carmelo Harris 1 4-4 7, James Cummings 1 0-2 2, Jay'Varion Peters-Johnson 2 0-0 4, Taylin Muldrew 0 1-2 1. Totals: 28 10-16 76.
BENTON HARBOR (62)
Kentrell Pullian 3 0-0 8, Quindarius Davis 6 0-0 13, William Suggs 1 0-0 2, Carlos Johnson 13 2-4 32, Joseph Johnson 1 0-0 2, Greg Cooper 2 1-2 5. Totals: 26 3-6 62.
3-point goals — Beecher 10 (Terry 5, Meifield 3, Sanders, Harris), B. Harbor 7 (C. Johnson 4, Pullian 2, Davis). Total fouls — Beecher 10, B. Harbor 15. Fouled out — none. Technical fouls — none. Rebounds — Beecher 34 (Cummings 7, Harris 7), B. Harbor 30 (C. Johnson 11).
Records — Flint Beecher 4-1, Benton Harbor 6-1.
Contact: bsanders@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSanders