By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal

MUSKEGON – When talked turned to O-K Black Conference girls basketball favorites this season, everybody mentioned Muskegon and Mona Shores.

Reeths-Puffer Coach Brandon Barry agreed with that assessment, but insisted his young team could be a factor in the race.

The Rockets made their coach look like a prophet Friday.

Led by sophomore Kalisa Williams’ 22 points, the Rockets went toe-to-toe with a favored Mona Shores squad and came away with a thrilling 47-44 victory on their home court.

Reeths-Puffer improved to 8-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play. Mona Shores dropped to 7-3 and 1-1 in the league.

“It’s been a while since we’ve beaten Shores,” Barry said. “I don’t even want to wager a guess when it was. It’s been years. You always want that monkey off that back and prove to yourself that you can compete with the quality teams.

“Our kids just play so hard. We don’t always play the smartest, but we’re quick, aggressive and we play with so much heart. We just don’t give up.”

The contest was tight from start to finish, with the Rockets trailing by four points after one quarter and leading by two at halftime and three at the third buzzer.

It the end it came down to a test of nerves.

Mona Shores standout Jasmyn Walker hit a three-pointer with two minutes left, giving the Sailors a 42-41 edge. But Reeths-Puffer’s Camaryia Williams answered with a layup 15 seconds later, putting the Rockets up by one.

Kalisa Williams grabbed a rebound and went end to end for a key layup with 28 seconds left, giving the Rockets a 45-42 edge. Mona Shores’ Amy Giddings hit two free throws with 14 seconds remaining to put the margin back at one.

Reeths-Puffer turned the ball over on an errant inbounds pass following a time out, giving Mona Shores the chance to steal the lead. But the Sailors missed a shot and committed a foul with four ticks left, sending the Rockets’ Delaney Bolles to the line.

The freshman calmly nailed both shots, sealing the upset win for the hosts.

Kalisa Williams made a huge difference for Reeths-Puffer, collecting 12 of her 22 points in the second quarter, just as the Rockets appeared to be slowing down a bit.

Junior Camaryia Williams, a defensive specialist, also found her offensive game at the right time for the Rockets, scoring 12 of her 14 points in the second half, including eight in the third quarter.

Camaryia Williams also led the Rockets with eight rebounds while Bolles chipped in seven.

Mona Shores was hurt by cold shooting throughout the contest. The Sailors only made 18 of 60 shots from the floor and blew a lot of chances from short range.

The missed shots negated the Sailors 34-22 rebounding advantage.

“Apparently they haven’t been trained on how to make a layup yet,” Mona Shores Coach Brad Kurth said.

The Sailors were also hurt when Walker, their leading scorer, collected her fourth foul in the third quarter and had to sit out for several crucial minutes.

“If you got senior kids you have to step up,” Kurth said, dismissing the idea that foul problems were fatal factors in the game. “I thought their freshmen and sophomores looked like juniors and seniors, and our juniors and seniors looked like freshmen and sophomores.”

Walker finished with 17 points and eight rebounds for Mona Shores. Kelsey Wolffis contributed nine rebounds.