By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – After the Muskegon Big Red boys basketball team escaped its first meeting with Mona Shores, in a 65-58 victory Jan. 24, the Sailor’s absolutely full parking lot Friday night spoke volumes as to what people expected for Round 2.
And if they were Sailor fans, they were probably disappointed.
This time around, Muskegon (16-0, 8-0) left no room for doubt versus host Mona Shores (12-4, 6-2), dominating the majority of the contest, while getting eight players in the scoring column, en route to the 69-39 win.
With the victory, the Big Reds grabbed at least a share of the OK Black Conference title.
“To come into this environment, on their home floor, and win it; I’m proud of my guys,” said Muskegon head coach Keith Guy. “I thought we were focused the entire night, from top to bottom. We played with high energy, we shared the ball well, we executed in the half court, and we also executed on the break. And defensively, I thought we did a great job holding them to 39 points.”
Muskegon, the No. 1-ranked team in Class A, has no time to relax, not with the No. 1 team in Class C, Mt. Clemens (15-0, 6-0), rolling into Muskegon tomorrow night (Saturday, Feb. 15) for a 6 p.m. tip off
For Shores head coach Gene Gifford, his club just didn’t get it done on the offensive end.
“We really struggled offensively,” he lamented. “Unofficially, we shot 29 percent, and (we only had) nine offensive boards. We had a lot of one-and-dones”
Muskegon started fast, jetting out to an 11-4 lead before the Sailors could even get their bearings. A three-pointer from Shores senior guard Marcus Tumblin, however, cut the lead to three, 12-9, but that would be as close as the Sailors would get.
A 16-4 run to finish the first made t 27-13 Muskegon.
Three-for-17 shooting in the second quarter doomed any Sailor comeback effort, and the Big Reds walked off the floor at half up 38-22.
“The whole half time speech was put them away, put them away, and I didn’t even have to say much because guys knew it,” said Guy.
Another bad quarter of shooting for Shores (3-for-13 in the third) pushed the Big Red lead up to 20, and a 12-0 run in the fourth sent the Big Red starters to the bench in favor of a full complement of reserves.
“When we played them the first time, their transition game really hurt us,” said Gifford. “We gave up 20 points in transition. We felt like that was probably the biggest difference in that game. Tonight, I don’t know how many they had but I’m sure it was quite a few. But I think they did a pretty good job in the half-court too.”
Muskegon’s Deshaun Thrower finished with a game-high 16 points, while junior teammates Joeviair Kennedy and Dayonta Davis had 14 points in the win. Davis added four blocks for the Big Reds.
Sailor senior guard Marcus Tumblin led his team with 15 points, and senior teammate Cameron Matthews added seven in the loss.
Now the Big Reds turn their focus toward Mt. Clemens, a team that features a power-packed lineup that’s beating teams by an average of almost 40 points (across the last nine games). It’s a test Guy designed himself.
“We try to set these games where, if we’re talking about making a tournament run, if we’re fortunate enough to make a tournament run and fortunate enough to make it to the semifinals, we’d play semifinals on Friday and finals on Saturday,” he explained. “This will be a similar set up. I’m not saying we will get there. I just want put us in different situations just in case it happens.”