By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON HEIGHTS – Following Tuesday night’s 69-57 loss to visiting Ottawa Hills, Muskegon Heights (12-2) boys head basketball coach Dalrecus Stewart didn’t have the look of a coach whose squad suffered its first home-floor loss in two years.
Mind you, he wasn’t happy with the loss. It’s just that, reasoned Stewart, sometimes a loss is what a team needs if it hopes to live up to its potential.
“I don’t think it’s a case of going back to the drawing board,” he said. “It’s more about pulling back together and executing. But this (loss) does a better job of delivering the message than me delivering the message. If there are some things, some undertones, that we weren’t addressing, maybe this game will bring everything to the surface.”
The host Tigers were at times brilliant, cutting several double-digit deficits to under five points. Yet, the Bengals never backed down from the Heights’ aggressive style, matching the Tigers run for run and closed the contest the way you must against Muskegon Heights.
The Tigers ran out to an 8-2 lead, and it looked like Ottawa Hills was a little over matched. But from the 5:20-point on, keyed by a three-pointer by the Bangles’ Myles Miller to kick start an 11-1 run, Ottawa Hills looked in pretty much in control.
Miller certainly caught Stewart’s eye.
“The kid is fantastic with the ball,” he noted.
Leading 16-15 after one, the Bengals widened their lead eight, before Heights’ senior guard Eddrick Tornes scored five-straight, and then the visitors finished the quarter on a 6-2 run that made it 30-23 West Ottawa at the half.
The third quarter shifted back-and-fourth a bit, with the Bengals threatening to blow the game open several times with leads of 14 and 16 points. The Tigers’ two big guns, Tornes and senior Aaron Snyder, went to work keeping their squad in the contest, combining for 13 of the Tigers’ 14 third-quarter points.
Though Tornes would go off to score 13 in the fourth, including three-straight three balls, the Bangles’ steady dose of Miller, senior forward Rick White, and senior guard Anthony Macintosh wore down the Tigers and the contest was decided.
“We were utterly flat and lacking any energy tonight,” said Stewart. “Why, I don’t really know. I think we let them into the contest, and by the third quarter, (Ottawa Hills) was feeling pretty good themselves.
Stewart sees a talented by young Tiger club that needs to deal with success.
“Some of our players are young,” he admitted. “A few of them haven’t ever had this level of success. So, we’re learning as we go.”
Tornes finished with 30 points to lead all scorers, while Sydnor added 17 more. In all, the Tigers got just 10 points from the rest of the roster.
“This isn’t a case of having more touches,” said Stewart. “It’s about taking advantage of the opportunities we get.”
White led Ottawa Hills with 17 points, with Miller totaling 15 points, and Macintosh adding 12 more in the victory.