By Mark Lewis

Local Sports Journal

MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Big Red boys basketball team retained a spot atop the OK Black standings Tuesday night, defeating rival Mona Shores (5-6, 1-3) 59-46 in a key league match up.

Muskegon (8-5, 3-1), which is 5-1 over its last six games, had its hands full with a game Sailor squad, and needed a big second half to come away victorious.

For Muskegon head coach Keith Guy, finishing was his point of emphasis.

“When you get teams down, you have to make championship plays if you want to be a championship team,” said Guy. “There were times we didn’t value possessions, both offensively and defensively, and we didn’t get the separation on the scoreboard when we should have. We did enough to win but we didn’t make championship team caliber plays.”

On the other hand, despite the loss the host Sailors learned a bit about themselves and how they will need to mentally enter future games of this level of importance.

“Muskegon has good ball players,” said Mona Shores head coach Nick Bronsema. “For Mona Shores, we know we have good ball players as well. The difference is, our players needed to know whether or not they could play ball.  Before this, we were not confident. This is the first time we played fearless instead of fearful. We weren’t afraid to make a mistake. We wanted to win.”

Tied 13-all after one quarter, the Sailors forced the Big Reds to liberally foul, causing Muskegon to reach 10 fouls, and the double-bonus, at the 5:22 mark of the second quarter. Instead of pulling away, the Big Reds were saddled with foul trouble as the Sailors sniffed at Muskegon’s heels the rest of the half.

Muskegon led 27-26 at the break.

The game changed in the second half, as Muskegon opened the third on a 7-0 run. The Sailors battled back, cutting the lead to two with two to go in the third, but were never able to retake the lead – which the hosts had last held, 17-15, two minutes into the second quarter.

Leading 40-34 after three, the Big Reds’ D’Vonte Dockery finished the contest strong, scoring six of his team’s last 10 points and grabbing three consecutive big rebounds.

“I knew they were going to be up for us,” said Guy of Mona Shores. “You know everybody is. We have to realize this as team because we’re going to get everybody’s best shot. I think we got their best shot tonight. They played well.”

For the Sailors, Coach Bronsema said he thought this game was a real break-through performance and would yield wins down the road.

“We’re young,” said Bronsema. “We have one senior playing right now. That doesn’t excuse it, but our kids sometimes allow too many other things to take them out of the game. The difference tonight, and I’m hoping in the future, was that we continued to play with confidence. We know what we can do, it’s just having the confidence to do it.”

Shores’ lone dressed senior, center Adam Rayner, led all scorers with 16 points, while also grabbing none rebounds and recording a block. Teammate Adreon Billips added 12 points and two steals, while Marcus Tumblin added eight points and a game-high 15 rebounds in the loss.

Dockery and Joeviair Kennedy paced Muskegon with 14 apiece, with teammate Deshaun Thrower adding 12 points. Deyonta Davis swatted away eight shots in the victory.

Muskegon 15-12-13-19-59

Mona Shores 12-12-8-12-46

Muskegon 59: D’Vonte Dockery 5 4-10 14, Joeviair Kennedy 4 3-6 14, Deshaun Thrower 3 5-8 12, Juwon Martin 3 1-2 7, William Roberson 0 6-8 6. Totals 21 21-36 59.

Mona Shores 46: Adam Rayner 6 4-7 16, Adrein Billips 4 4-6 12, Marcus Tumblin 3 2-4 8, Kobe Burse 2 0-1 4, Cameron Matthews 1 2-2 4. Totals 16 14-22 46.

Three-point field goals: Kennedy (3), Thrower. Total fouls: Mona Shores 24, Muskgon 22. Fouled out: Roberson, Billips, Tumblin. Technical fouls: Timblin.