By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal
Bernard Smith proved to be unstoppable on Wednesday night for the Western Michigan Christian Warriors.
Smith, a 6-foot-5 post player, scored 28 points, pulled down 17 rebounds and blocked 10 shots as the host Warriors nipped the Reeths-Puffer Rockets 51-49 in a nonleague boys basketball game.
“Everything was going through him,” WMC coach Kyle Mastenbrook said. “We played unselfishly, it was great. Guys were taking care of the ball, being smart with it, playing tough on defense, going out all out all over the floor.”
Smith scored 17 points during a second half in which the Warriors (3-3) battled back from a double-digit deficit to earn the two-point victory.
In the opening half, the Rockets used their quickness and some good shooting to gain a 34-24 lead.
Deedrick Blake came off the bench in the opening half and scored all 10 of his points to lead the Rockets. Andrew Reinecke also was key off the bench in the opening half with seven points as did starter Marquese Livers.
But along came the second half and the Rockets’ offense went cold with just 15 points in the final 16 minutes.
And during that time, the Warriors turned up the intensity at both ends of the floor.
“If we make a couple shots and not make stupid turnovers, we win that game,” Rocket coach Dave Ingles said. “That was a big key.”
At the other end of the floor, it was Smith, who scored 18 points and blocked a majority of his shots.
A bucket by WMC sophomore Logan Waller tied the game at 40-all late in the third quarter then the teams went back and forth for much of the final quarter.
Reinecke made one of two free throws with 1:58 remaining to tie the game at 49, but Smith used his 265-pound frame to muscle inside for a bucket with 1:27 left to finish the evening’s scoring.
The Rockets came down looking for tying bucket, but Bernard had two blocks and James Jackson added one to keep the Rockets off the board. Reeths-Puffer did get a 3-point shot off in the final seconds that missed and Waller pulled down the rebound and the game was over.
“I thought we played great tonight,” Mastenbook said. “It was our best game and played smart, played together … better than we ever have.”
Jacksonfinished with eight points and Henry Dekam had seven for WMC.
Livers finished with 12 points and Reinecke and Blake had 10 each.
The Rockets dropped to 3-2 on the season.
Western MichiganChristian 51, Reeths-Puffer 49
Deedrick Blake 5 0-0 10, Marquese Livers 5 1-2 12, Jalen Benton 0 3-4 3, Kevin Polk 3 2-2 8, Kyle Versalle 1 0-0 2, Quinzell Pannell 0 1-2 1, Andrew Reinecke 3 2-4 10, Trevor Barnes 1 1-2 3. Totals 18 10-16 49.
WESTERN MICHIGANCHRISTIAN (3-3)
James Jackson 4 0-0 8, Alex Rop 1 0-0 2, Henry Dekam 1 5-6 7, Jacob Ray 0 0-0 0, Bernard Smith 13 2-5 28,LoganWaller 3 0-0 6, Sam Mast 0 0-2 0. Totals 22 7-13 51.
R-P 16 – 18 – 6 – 9 – 49
WMC 9 – 15 – 16 – 11 – 51
3-pointers: Livers, Reinecke (2). Total fouls: Reeths-Puffer 11, WMC 11. Fouled out: none. JV: Reeths-Puffer. A: 500.