Badger holds off Grand Valley

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Dianna Oatridge Badger's Logan Popovich, left, gets past Grand Valley's Malik Mitchell on the way to the hoop during Friday’s game at Badger High School. Badger won, 63-61.

VERNON — The Badger Braves pulled off a 63-61 victory over their Northeastern Athletic Conference rival Grand Valley Mustangs on Friday night.

This win ends a three-game losing streak for the Braves, pushing them to 11-5 and 8-3 in the NAC Stars Division. The Mustangs (8-8, 7-5) were close to the division lead heading into the game.

“There weren’t many people outside of our locker room that expected us to win that game,” Badger coach Joshua Upshire said. “They had their size advantage. They’re seasoned guys, well-coached and I told them, ‘Just play.’ And, we did a good job of that.”

At the end of the first quarter, the Mustangs held a 16-5 lead over the Braves. Badger rallied for an 11-point lead at the half with a 23-point second quarter. The two teams were neck-and-neck until the final buzzer, with the largest lead held by either team being a brief seven-point advantage for the Mustangs midway through the fourth quarter.

Logan Popovich led the Braves with 21 points, 10 of which came in the final quarter. Sophomore Logan Lendak put up 20 points.

“We didn’t come ready to play,” Grand Valley coach Justin Turk said. “We didn’t execute. We knew their scorers were 1 (Lendak) and 30 (Popovich), and time and time again we left them open. Just a lack of communication. We have another game tonight to get ready for. We’re gonna look at film overnight and (this) morning and see what we need to do to get better.”

Jude Cunningham led the Mustangs, with 19 points, including eight points in the fourth quarter. Malik Mitchell put up 15 points, nine of which coming from behind the arc.

“We were the underdogs today, we were missing three of our top five guys, I told them there was no pressure on us.” Upshire said.

Tonight, the Mustangs head to Jefferson, while the Braves travel to Heartland Christian.

Special to Tribune Chronicle / Dianna Oatridge Grand Valley's Malik Mitchell looks to score as Badger's Travis Webber (15) and Brad Blaney (21) look on.