By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Grant made the half-hour trip west Friday night to take on the Muskegon Catholic Central boys basketball squad.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they left their shot back home.
The host Crusaders (6-6, 0-3) took advantage of a 14-minute Grant field-goal drought to easily take the 64-30 non-league victory over the Tigers.
The win snaps a five-game slide for the Crusaders, a team that lost those games by an average of seven points, three by five or less. It was good medicine for what is clearly a very good Crusader squad.
“We really put it all together,” said Catholic head coach Lamar Jordan. “We’ve lost a few close ones lately despite playing well. Tonight, everything just went our way.”
Jordan was proud of the offense, of course, but it was his team’s play on the other end that was his favorite part.
“I think it came down to our defense,” said Catholic head coach Lamar Jordan. “We really limited what they wanted to do. We shut down (senior Grant guard) Nick Brown, their leading scorer, with Erik VanFossen and Lamar Jordan III guarding him. Those two did a pretty good job.”
Brown finished with four points.
Grant (8-6, 4-3) was playing its third game of the week, and with conference foes Ludington and Fremont still sitting out there waiting to be played, Tiger head coach Josh Delamater said it was clear early on it wasn’t going to be Grant’s night.
“This is our third game this week,” explained Delamater. “We had overtime on Monday with Sparta. And then we had Tri-County on Tuesday. I knew coming in this game was one that might catch us at the wrong time. Look what happened; they got hot, hit some shots, and you start to wonder if it’s worth the price of battling. With Ludington on Monday, and a legitimate shot at a high finish in the conference, we had to live to fight another day. Our legs just weren’t there tonight.”
The two teams traded baskets for the first eight minutes of the game, as Grant cut a six-point MCC lead into a two-point Tiger deficit. When junior Grant guard Garrett Bomay dropped a jumper with 15 seconds left in the half, everything was going according to plan.
Then the bottom dropped out of the Tigers’ wagon. What followed was a parade of missed shots that was so glaring, the entire building knew Grant shooters were struggling, and would continue to struggle.
Catholic pounced, slowly at first and primarily by Catholic senior guard Adam Callow, who pumped in 11 during the second, including three three-pointers, as MCC took a 28-19 lead at the break.
The kid is good.
“Adams’s our leader,” said Jordan. “The team goes as he goes. He’s struggled a little bit lately, but he’s becoming more aggressive again. We’ve talked about it a lot lately, about being more aggressive, and it showed on the court.”
It went from bad to worse for the Tigers in the third, suffering what would end up being 19 missed shots in a row. Brown finally ended his team’s scoring famine at the 1:54 mark of the third, on a lay in that bounced around the rim before finally going down.
The benches emptied in the fourth.
“We have to win out to have a chance” for a Lakes 8 title, said Delamater. “No one in the conference is an easy win. They’re all going to be tough. But the kids came up to me tonight and said, ‘Big picture, Coach.’ It was nice to hear that, that they’re tuned into what’s going on. Because we really do have a shot at a first, second place finish in our conference.”
Callow finished with 24 points, and rounded out the night with five assists, while senior center Ian Tyler had 11 points and 10 boards, and the junior VanFossen added eight points. Sophomore guard Christian Martinez had five assists and the junior Jordan III came up with four steals in the win.
Senior Riley Foster led Grant with seven points, and teammate Mason Powell added six for the Tigers.