Local Sports Journal

SHELBY – It should come as no surprise that Friday night’s Shelby and Mason County Central boys basketball match up created tons of fireworks.

Lots of people saw it coming in the preseason, with both teams on nearly everyone’s lips when the best of the West Michigan Conference was discussed.

And boy did it deliver.

“It was a big crowd,” said Mason County Central head coach Jeff Tuka. “There were a lot of other teams there watching. It was a great atmosphere and a really, really good basketball game. It was intense, it was loud. It was clean but physical. Everyone that paid to get in got their money’s worth. It had a March feel to it.”

It ended with a bang.

Tied 57-all with just 2.3 seconds remaining, Shelby’s Jason Beckman received a half-court pass, launched a long shot off one foot and nailed the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to hand the Tigers the 60-57 victory.

MCC’s Kody Ambrose tied up the contest by hitting 1-of-2 free throws in the final seconds.

MCC (3-2, 2-1) trailed by eight points at the half, and battled back from an 11-point deficit in the second half to eventually tie it on Ambrose’s free throw.

“The reason why we were able to get those comebacks was just us being able to turn up the D and get in some passing lanes,” said Tuka.

Shelby (5-0, 3-0) was paced by Beckman’s 17 points, 12 of which came in the second half after being handcuffed by foul trouble in the first half. Devin Mussell had 10 points and five rebounds, Mike James totaled eight points and seven rebounds, and Andrew Beckman finished with seven points and seven rebounds.

Tuka said the Tigers’ ability to control the boards was the difference.

Ambrose finished with a game-high 21 points and five rebounds, while teammate Anders Asiala had  11 points and three assists, and Colton Tyndall and Josh Ritzema added nine points apiece.

“Ambrose was all over,” said Tuka. “He just had a good all around game. You could tell (Shelby was) trying to disrupt him around the perimeter.”