By David Tomczak
Local Sports Journal

With his team getting a day off from school due to snow, Muskegon coach Keith Guy tried to keep his players from going into Friday night’s game too relaxed.

“We had an early shoot around,” the Big Reds coach said. “But we still came out very slow.”

Host Reeths-Puffer kept Muskegon from getting its up-tempo game going early, and went to the second quarter only trailing 13-9.

But the Big Reds finally found the shot of adrenaline they needed in the second quarter, scoring 25 points to jumpstart the offense in a 70-56 win over the Rockets in OK Black Conference action.

“We were finally able to open it up,” Guy said. “You have got to give Reeths-Puffer credit, they had a good game plan and slowed us down.

The Rockets couldn’t overcome the Big Reds pressure, however.

After handling it in the first, Puffer went through a three minute span to start the second quarter where Muskegon outscored them 14-4.

While turnovers were hurting the Rockets, Muskegon was helping itself at the free throw line. The Big Reds hit 8-of-11 attempts at the line, while Puffer didn’t even attempt one until Quinzell Pannell toed the charity stripe with 8 seconds left in the half.

“It came down to that 10-point run (Muskegon) had in the second quarter,” Rockets coach David Ingles said. “We gave up turnovers, layups, fouls – we knew it would come down to that and if we would’ve handled it, it would have been a different game.”

When Reeths-Puffer was handling the Big Red pressure, they still had no answer for its junior guard.

Deshaun Thrower drove the basket as often as he could through the game’s first 10 minutes, and when the Rockets backed off him, he began hitting from long range.

“I just took what the defense gave me,” said Thrower, who scored a game high 32 points. “We came out flat this game and you can’t do that. Once we got aggressive we got better as a team.

Muskegon (13-6, 8-2) lead 38-26 at halftime and increased to lead to 55-37 after three quarters. The Rockets (7-12, 3-7) never gave up and after Andrew Reinecke scored eight points in a 60-second span late in the fourth, Puffer cut the lead to 59-47, but could not get any closer.

“I’m happy about how we finished this (game) off,” Ingles said. “When (Muskegon) built that lead we could’ve easily folded our tents but we didn’t.”

Thrower added nine rebounds and four steals for the Big Reds, who outrebounded the Rockets 36-23 on the night, including 14 offensive boards.

Muskegon was also 21-of-28 from the free throw line while R-P ended the night just 11-of-19.

Joeviar Kennedy added 15 points for the Big Reds and Deyonta Davis finished with eight points, 12 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

Reinecke lead the Rockets with 19 points, Dede Blake scored 12, Jalen Benton had four assists and Pannell and Deandre Oaks-Owens grabbed six rebounds apiece.

Muskegon 70, Reeths-Puffer 56

MUSKEGON (13-6, 8-2)

Deshaun Thrower 10 8-9 32, Joeviar Kennedy 5 4-4 15, Deyonta Davis 3 2-3 8, William Roberson 2 2-2 6, Ronald Jenkins 1 1-4 3, Juwon Martin 1 1-2 3, Jordan Waire 0 2-2 2, Jalen Smith 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 21-28 70.

REETHS-PUFFER (7-12, 3-7)

Andrew Reinecke 7 2-2 19, Dede Blake 3 3-4 12, Kevin Polk 2 2-4 6, Deandre Oaks-Owens 2 2-5 6, Jalen Benton 2 0-0 5, Marquese Livers 2 1-2 5, Quinzell Pannell 1 1-2 3. Totals 19 11-19 56.

 Muskegon 13 25 17 15 – 70
Reeths-Puffer 9 17 11 19 – 56

3-point field goals – Thrower 4, Kennedy, Reinecke 3, Blake 3, Benton. Total fouls – Muskegon 18, Reeths-Puffer 16.