Jacob Ray’s steal, layup in the final seconds lift Western Michigan Christian boys to key league victory

By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

MUSKEGON – As the final seconds ticked off the game clock, the best the Western Michigan Christian Warriors could hope for was a defensive stop to force the game to overtime.

But, in a split second, that all changed.

Jacob Ray gets to the basket for WMC on Homecoming night. Photo/Scott Stone

Jacob Ray gets to the basket for WMC on Homecoming night. Photo/Scott Stone

Jacob Ray created a steal and made a layup with 3.8 seconds left to lift the Warriors to a 49-47 victory Friday over the Grand Rapids Covenant Christian Chargers.

That outcome set off a wild celebration at midcourt on an evening when Western Michigan Christian celebrated homecoming.

With the game tied at 47-all, the Chargers ran the clock down to 15.7 seconds before calling a timeout. When play resumed, Covenant point guard Colin Riemersma had possession of the ball until Logan Waller forced him to turn and Ray quickly moved in to steal the ball.

Seconds later, Ray muscled up a layup and got fouled. He missed the free throw and Covenant charged up the court.

However, the Chargers were unable to get a shot when leading scorer Derrick DeVries slipped to the floor, the ball rolled away and the buzzer sounded.

“The reason I could go get that steal was that I knew my team had my back on the help,” said Ray, who left his man –  DeVries – to help on the double team. “I went for the ball and I got it with all I had and was able to get the steal. The credit goes to my team for the help.”

Jared Varnado cruises in for the WMC layup. Photo/Scott Stone

Jared Varnado cruises in for the WMC layup. Photo/Scott Stone

“I saw a bold play,” said WMC coach Kyle Mastenbrook, who had a close up view of the steal. “A confident play by Jacob to go get the ball. He just made a good basketball read. Logan (Waller) turned the guy, Jacob saw that and made the steal and then had to finish.”

The exciting outcome was the culmination of a 32-minute battle that saw the River Valley Conference foes exchange leads several times throughout the game.

And it looked like Covenant would escape the Warriors’ gym with a victory after gaining a six-point lead in the latter stages of the fourth quarter.

However, the Warriors would have the final say. Waller made two three throws with 43 seconds left to tie the game at 47-all, then Ray produced the final two points in the final seconds.

“What a great night,” Mastenbrook said. “We had a great crowd tonight and we had guys playing tough. Covenant played tough in a tough environment and I’m just happy to get this one.”

No. 52 Kyle Kingma finds a shot for WMC. Photo/Scott Stone

No. 52 Kyle Kingma finds a shot for WMC. Photo/Scott Stone

Ray led the Warriors (8-4) with 16 points. Devin Eekhoff added eight points and five rebounds. Guard Nate Dugener had five points and six rebounds.

DeVries led Covenant with 17 points, his lowest point total in his last six games.

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