By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – The early buzz surrounding the Muskegon Big Red boys basketball team has been that it could be the best squad in the state.
And while perhaps the Big Reds (2-0) didn’t look like the best team in the state Friday night in their opening game of the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Basketball Classic versus Westland John Glenn, they sure looked about as close as you can get in the 65-50 victory.
East Lansing downed East Kentwood 59-51 in the early game. Muskegon will face East Kentwood at Saturday evening’s finale. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
But a coach is never completely satisfied and Muskegon head coach Keith Guy is no exception. While pleased with the result, Guy said he can see lots of room for improvement.
“I’m not saying I’m not happy with it,” he said. “I’m happy with the victory. But we have a lot of work to do. And that’s good. “
John Glenn (2-3) held the early 5-3 lead two minutes into the game, but then proceeded to miss its next 16 shots, stretching three minutes in the second quarter. In the meantime, the Big Reds built a 19-4 lead with a combination of jumpers, free throws and put-back baskets. The Rocket shooting finally came alive late in the second, hitting five of their last nine shots to trail 32-17 at halftime.Perhaps Muskegon got a little too comfortable, as evidenced by a lackluster effort across the first four minutes of the second half. First, Big Red Div. 1 commit (Michigan State) Deyonta Davis picked up his third foul. Then Muskegon’s 15-point lead quickly turned into an eight-point edge behind five-for-six Rocket shooting.
The Big Reds were forced to call a timeout.
“I told them,” said Guy. “That’s going to get you in some trouble.” It’s going to get us in a lot of trouble if we don’t decide to play hard all the time. One of these nights, when a team is shooting some baskets, getting baskets to fall, we’re going to be in trouble. Because we’re not (always) going to be able to turn it back on.”
After that, there was no doubt the Big Reds were in charge, running off a demoralizing 13-1 run, crescendoed by junior Big Red guard Joeviair Kennedy’s three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 52-32.
“He’s one of those kids I wasn’t worried about coming on,” said Guy of Kennedy. “He’s been sort of a forgotten man, with all of the other guys getting all the hype. He’s a guy who averaged 13 points-per-game last year.”
Later Guy went further with his praise.
“(Kennedy is) just as important as anybody else,” he explained. “Deshaun (Thrower) and Deyonta and Will Roberson, he’s really important. He’s a guy who can carry you offensively, and he’s really stepped it up defensively. I’m really more pleased with his defensive effort now.”
The third-quarter stretch underscored this team’s ability to explode, without notice, turning nail biters into run-away wins.
Muskegon put the game away during a 30-second stretch in the fourth, featuring a Davis dunk and put-back basket, and an amazing play by William Roberson – he took a three-quarter court pass from Thrower, following a Davis block, grabbed it, expertly laid it up to draw the foul, sank it, and sailed out of bounds, all in a split second.
“This is a special team,” said Guy, “You look at a play like that. That’s just, I mean, some professionals can’t make that play. I’m not saying that we are that. That play was just so good because of the hustle. I was telling our guys that I was so happy because of our effort, because we had guys down on the floor for the ball, getting after it. That play there, I don’t see how he made it. I don’t know if could happen again in a million years.”
Kennedy shared game-high honors with John Glenn’s Mychael Bradley, after the pair each scored 19 points. Kennedy also had 10 boards.
Davis had 17 points and four blocks to go with 10 rebounds, while Jordan Waire scored 11 and the senior Stony Brook University-commit Thrower, in an understated, facilitator-like performance, added eight points and five assists.
Roberson had seven points in the win.
Deangelio Kirksey added 15 points for the Rockets.