By John Jarvi
Local Sports Journal

GRAND HAVEN — The Grand Haven Buccaneers had a big crowd in the building, but the nationally ranked Muskegon Big Reds came away with a 55-45 non-league victory in boys’ basketball Friday night.

Even with Michigan State University coach Tom Izzo sitting in the first row of the bleachers at the east end, Muskegon couldn’t shake loose from Grand Haven until the second half.

The Buccaneers led 13-8 and 31-27 after the first two quarters only to have the Big Reds counter with increased defensive pressure.

Muskegon, now 5-0 and ranked 49th in the recent USA Today national boys prep basketball poll, limited Grand Haven to only five points in the third quarter and kept the Buccaneers scoreless for more than four minutes in that period.

“We played with some energy in the second half, and we scored 28 points, and they scored 14,” said Muskegon coach Keith Guy. “We have a lot of work to do, and we’ll fix it. We were out of focus.”

Grand Haven played one of its best halves of the season in the opening half but could not sustain it.

“It was a good night,” said Steve Hewitt, the Grand Haven coach. “There was a lot of energy in the building. In the third quarter we started focusing on the wrong things. We were just gassed in the fourth quarter.”

Hewitt said Grand Haven, now 2-4 for the season, drew Muskegon for a repeat game in the opening game of the Class A district tournament. That tournament will start March 3 at Muskegon High School’s Potter-Redmond Gymnasium.

Encouraged by the overall performance, Hewitt said “If we keep working, we can do some things in the O-K Conference Red Division race.”

Grand Haven starts league play Tuesday, Jan. 14, by hosting the Hudsonville Eagles at 7 p.m. It will be the second of four home games in a row for the Buccaneers.

Muskegon showed some scoring balance on offense. Guy said guard “William Roberson set the tempo for everyone, and shot the ball well.”

Deshaun Thrower had a team-high 16 points for the Big Reds while Joeviair Kennedy had 15 points and Roberson 14.

Center Deyonta Davis, who has verbally committed to Izzo at MSU as a junior, had eight points and 17 rebounds for Muskegon. The Big Reds led in rebounds 26-20.