By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal
Muskegon rates as the favorite to win the Class A boys basketball district championship this week and that’s OK with Nick Bronsema.
The Mona Shores’ coach is just thankful to be facing the Big Reds in Wednesday’s semifinals after his Sailors defeated Reeths-Puffer 66-54 Monday night in a district opening game at the Sailor Center.
Shores will be the underdog for Wednesday’s 8 p.m. tipoff against Muskegon, which swept the Sailors 59-46 and 90-75 during the regular season.
“The key is we have to be up for the challenge,” Bronsema said. “We have to play like champions. We have to have a championship effort.”
Presale tickets for the matchup will be sold Tuesday and Wednesday at Muskegon and Mona Shores.
The Sailors put together a solid team effort against the Rockets after the cross-town rivals split during the regular season.
Nine players scored for the Sailors, led by Cameron Matthews with 15 points, Marcus Tumblin with 13 points and Logan Smith with 10 points and eight rebounds. Marquon Sargent also had nine points, Logan Haugh contributed seven points and six rebounds and Dimitris Demetriou came off the bench to score seven points.
Shores (11-10) played its best basketball in the middle two quarters.
Puffer, meanwhile, played inspired early and led 17-14 after one quarter.
The Sailors started attacking the basket more and surged to a 31-26 halftime lead and 51-36 advantage after three quarters.
“We can hit the outside shots, but we have to be the attacker and not the attackee,” Bronsema said. “We were sharing the ball and playing to win and not worrying about losing.”
Puffer (8-13) also featured a balanced attack, with Quinzell Panell producing 14 points and four rebounds, followed by Andrew Reinecke with 12 points and Marquese Livers with 11 points. Kevin Polk and sophomore DeAndre Oakes-Owens each had three assists.
Rockets’ coach Dave Ingles cited three main reasons for his team’s downfall: An inability to effectively get into the halfcourt offense, a dismal 8-of-23 showing at the free-throw line and coming up short in the rebounding battle.
Shores took control with a key 16-2 run to open the third quarter.
“We let them get out on a run and we didn’t get into our offense,” Ingles said about the pivotal third quarter. “They did a real nice job. (Free throws) have been our Achilles Heel all year.”
Puffer did not quit in the final eight minutes. The Rockets charged back and cut the deficit to seven points, but Shores made 7-of-12 free throws in the final 1:33.
Both teams will be fired up for next season. Shores has only two seniors on its roster and Puffer has a bright future with freshman Jaquan Pannell and Oakes-Owens leading the way.
Ingles credited his seniors for adjusting to his style in his first season. He’s also looking forward to inheriting a group of jayvee players that won 11 games this season.
“Hopefully, it’s smooth sailing from here,”said Ingles, who doubled Puffer’s win total from last season.
Grand Haven and Fruitport will play the other 6 p.m. semifinal Wednesday, with the two winners advancing to Friday’s 7 p.m. title game.
MONA SHORES 66, REETHS-PUFFER 54
Dede Blake 1 0-0 3, Marquese Livers 5 1-2 11, Jalen Benton 0 1-2 1, Kevin Polk 0 2-5 2, Quinzell Pannell 7 0-3 14, Andrew Reinecke 3 3-4 12, DeAndre Oakes Owens 2 1-2 6, JaQuan Pannell 2 0-5 5. Totals 20 8-23 54
MONA SHORES (11-10)
Marcus Tumblin 4 5-7 13, Dimitris Demetriou 2 2-2 7, Marquon Sargent 3 3-6 9, Adreon Billips 1 0-0 3, Logan Smith 4 2-2 10, Cameron Matthews 5 4-6 15, Kobe Burse 0 1-2 1, Logan Haugh 2 3-6 7, Adam Rayner 0 1-2 1. Totals 21 21-33 66.
Mona Shores 14-17-20-15-66
3-pointers-Rei necke (3), Blake, Oakes Owens, J. Pannell; Demetriou, Billips, Matthews. Total fouls-Reeths-Puffer 22, Mona Shores 15. Fouled out-none.