By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal
ZEELAND – Can any doubt remain that the 2013-14 Muskegon High School boys basketball team is one of the best squads the Muskegon area has ever produced?
Can there be any question the only team standing in the way of a Big Reds’ Class A hoops title is, well, the Big Reds themselves?
There was no sign of that Monday night at Zeeland East, where top-rated Muskegon rolled to one of the most lopsided regional semifinal results in recent memory with the 74-31 victory over Northview (18-6).
But that doesn’t mean Muskegon head coach Keith Guy thinks it will be a cakewalk to the title.
“We have to understand that we are good on paper,” said Guy. “People picked us to be at the Breslin Center, picked us to be champions. But I told the guys before the game that, if that was the case, we don’t have to play these games. They will cancel districts, they will cancel regionals, and just have a final four. That’s not the way it works. You have to earn it, every game, every quarter, every possession.”
The Big Reds (24-0) move on to face Hudsonville, which defeated Ottawa Hills 65-49 in the other semifinal after trailing at the half. The two teams will face off at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Zeeland East High School for the regional crown.
It was over early versus the Wildcats, as the Big Reds reeled off a 10-2 run to finish the first quarter up 14-5. Then they scored the first 16 points of the second, and the contest quickly out of control.
“We just came out and did what we were suppose to do,” said Muskegon’s Joeviair Kennedy, who finished with a game-high 22 points in the win. “We ran the floor, I ran it real good, and that’s how I got some easy buckets.”
Try on these first half Big Red stats: 15-for-20 shooting from the floor; two turnovers, none in the second quarter; holding Northview to just eight points through the first fourteen-and-a-half minutes of the game.
The lead stood at 39-13 at the break.
Muskegon never relented, outscoring the Wildcats 35-18 in the second half on a combination of dunks, long-range jumpers and a suffocating man-to-man that controlled more of the floor than most team’s zone defense.
“The guys were looking forward toward playing Muskegon,” said Northview head coach Trevor Chalmers. “We just struggled early. It might have been a little bit of the pressure of the situation; shots weren’t falling in. They get off to a good start and it is kind of hard to recover.”
Though the team has been dominant all season, recently Muskegon has put it all together, getting solid contributions from the entire roster and with each player playing within their respective rolls.
When it is working, it’s a thing of beauty.
“That’s what I like about this team,” said Guy. “We have guys who can score, guys who can pass, and guys who can rebound. They play unselfishly, they know each other. They know where each other likes the ball, and they get it to that person in their sweet spot. It’s just a joy to watch when we are plying with a flow.”
For much of the Big Red squad, a quick start equals success.
“In the playoffs,” said senior guard Deshaun Thrower, who finished with 19 points and eight assists, “teams spark up. We don’t want to be down, have a bad first quarter, a bad first couple of opening minutes.
Along with Kennedy’s 22 points, and Thrower’s 19 points, junior center Deyonta Davis added 10 points and six block in the win.
The Wildcats’ Devon Houston finished with a team-high nine points for Northview.