By Ron Rop
Local Sports Journal

When Muskegon Catholic Central and Western Michigan Christian get together for a battle on the basketball court, there are several guarantees.

The score will be close, emotions will run high on the court and the spectators from both schools will be boisterous.

That’s what happened on Friday evening when the teams locked up for another River Valley Conference battle. This time around, spectators were treated to “bonus basketball” as the Warriors needed overtime to pull out a 60-59 victory over the visiting Crusaders.

“Everybody in this gym was up for this game,” WMC coach Kyle Mastenbrook said. “From the energy that the fans brought and the energy Catholic brought in the first half – they outworked us. We had to wake up in the second half.”

“It was an exciting game,” Crusader coach Lamar Jordan said. “It’s always an exciting game when you play WMC.”

WMC was led by junior Bernard Smith, who was limited to eight points in the first meeting between the teams.

But on Friday night, the 6-foot-5 post player, erupted for 25 points and 16 rebounds. Included in his points was a 11-for-15 performance from the free-throw line and a game-tying basket with 4 seconds left in regulation that signaled the extra four-minute period.

“Bernard is a quiet kid, but when he steps between the lines, he gets pretty intense,” Mastenbrook said. “But, it’s important for us to have some guys step up outside of Bernard.”

Henry DeKam came through with 11 points and sophomore Jacob Ray finished with nine, including eight points in a fourth quarter in which WMC had to battle back. Logan Waller, another sophomore, also came through with eight points.

WMC led 11-10 after one quarter, but the Crusaders used a 14-4 second-quarter scoring advantage  to take a 24-15 lead into the half. John Daniel had eight first-half points and Adam Callow had six points on two 3-pointers.

The Warriors turned the tables with a solid third quarter that produced 22 points to MCC’s 11. That gave the hosts a 37-35 lead with one quarter to go.

James Jackson ignited the Warriors early in the fourth quarter with a pair of baskets, but the Crusaders battled right back.  Lamar Jordan III hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final quarter and a two-pointer that gave MCC a 50-45 lead.

With 16 seconds left, MCC had a 53-51 lead and the ball. A full court pass from Brant McCollum was intended for Cari Campbell, but Jackson picked it off and that gave the Warriors the break they needed to tie the game

WMC set up a play with 14 secodns left and it paid off as Smith’s layup with 4 seconds left tied the game and sent it into overtime.

The Warriors took an early lead in overtime with a hoop from Waller. Later, Smith scored underneath to make it 57-54. Ray the hit 1-of-2 free throws to make it 58-54.

Callow was fouled on a 3-point shot and made 2-of-3 to cut the deficit to 58-56.

Then Smith made two free throws with 17 seconds left to give WMC a four-point lead.

Daniel hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin of victory.

“I’m proud of my kids,” Jordan said. “They played hard and in a game like that, it’s really hard that one team has to lose.”

WMC is 13-5 heading into Saturday’s game at Tri-unity Christian. MCC fell to 7-10.

Western Michigan Christian 60, Muskegon Catholic 59 (OT)

Ian Tyler 1 1-2 3, Jessie Anderson 1 3-3 5, Cari Campbell 8 1-3 19, Adam Callow 4 2-3 14, John Daniel 4 0-1 11, Lamar Jordan 1 5-6 7. Totals 19 12-18 59.

Nate Taylor 1 0-0 3, James Jackson 2 0-0 4, Logan Waller 4 0-3 8, Henry DeKam 5 0-0 11, Jacob Ray 3 1-4 9, Bernard Smith 7 11-15 25. Totals 22 12-22 60.

MCC 10 – 14 – 11 – 18 – 6 – 59
WMC 11 – 4 – 22 – 16 – 7 – 60

3-pointers: Campbell (2), Callow (4), Daniel (3), Taylor, DeKam, Ray (2). Total fouls: MCC 18, WMC 16. Fouled out: McCallum. Technicals: none.