MAYVILLE — It was a cold start to the season for the Kingston boys’ basketball team.
But things are warming up now.
An explosive second half Thursday propelled the Cardinals to a 56-24 win at rival Mayville. After beginning the year 1-4, Kingston has know won five of its last six games — including three in a row in North Central Thumb League play.
“I thought our second half was much better than our first,” said Kingston coach Dave Lester. “It was our best half (this season) in terms of adjusting defensively.”
Already playing without starters, point guard Nathan Cloyd (injury) and forward Bo Mickelson (vacation in the Caribbean), Kingston’s leading scorer and rebounder, Grant Koehler, was forced to the bench less than two minutes into the game after commenting his second foul.
Koehler is the reigning Advertiser Player of the Week.
“The last couple of weeks, he has really stepped up,” Lester said. “He’s so versatile, and plays huge for us. He plays all five positions out there really.”
The 6-foot-5 senior remained on the bench the remainder of the first half as the Cardinals clung to a 20-15 halftime lead.
But once the second half started, junior Dez Carter drilled a three-pointer and the Cardinals were off and running. Kingston won the third quarter 22-4, then outscored the Wildcats in the fourth 14-5.
“It’s all mental,” said Mayville coach Matt Walter. “In practice, we communicate, we talk every day, we call each other’s names. We’re taking charges, we dive on the ground. But that’s not how we play in games.”
Sitting at 1-4 on December 29, Kingston beat Brown City 45-38 in the second game of the Moore Holiday Classic. It then lost to Peck 39-25 shortly after the new year to fall to 0-3 in the NCTL.
The Cardinals haven’t lost since and sit at 6-5 overall and 3-3 in league play.
“We have some tough games coming up, and if we’re not all on the same page defensively, we’re going to lose those games,” Lester said. “We understand that if we get another loss in league, it’s over, we’re not going to win it. So we know every game is a must win now.”
Mayville dropped to 3-8 and 1-6 in the NCTL.
Kingston’s slim halftime lead was largely thanks to the three-point shooting of senior Quin Geister. Standing at 6-foot-2, the bulky forward hardly looks like an outside threat — until the basketball hits the bottom of the net. Geister drilled three 3-pointers in the first half Thursday, and led Kingston with 13 points. Koehler added 10 points for the Cardinals — all in the second half — while freshman Evan Neff, Gabe Hall and Austin Ahern each contributed eight.
Jared Hoag had 10 points and six rebounds for Mayville while Michael Redfield scored six and freshman center Jeffrey Frost pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
Kingston is off next week then returns to action on Jan. 31 in a key NCTL game at Deckerville. The Eagles beat Kingston 47-42 on Dec. 15.
Mayville is also off until Jan. 31, when it plays at Caseville. The Wildcats got their only NCTL win at the expense of Caseville, 57-14, on Dec. 15.