By Justin Haggerty
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – The Muskegon girls basketball team was without standout junior Mardrekia Cook for the first quarter of Tuesday’s game, and it showed.
The visiting Wayland Union Wildcats scored 16 points before Muskegon got on the board en route to a 67-41 drubbing of the Big Reds in non-league action at Redmond-Potter Gymnasium.
“She’s our spark from the tip,” said Muskegon’s interim head coach Takarri Churchwell. “Even if that happens, everybody else has another role to perform.
“We can’t wait if she’s not in. You can’t wait. If you wait 16-0 will be up there quick. It’s just an experience we have to learn from.”
The Big Reds hurt themselves by turning the ball over seven times before their first field goal finally came with 2:40 left in the first quarter. Wayland Union showed a balanced attack from the start, with five different players leading their team to a 22-4 lead at the first buzzer.
The second quarter brought the return of Cook, but it was more of the same for the Big Reds.
Wayland Union hit 9 of 14 shots from the field in the second quarter, while Muskegon was 2-for-8. The Wildcats outscored Muskegon 15-7 in the quarter and had a 15-4 edge on the boards.
The halftime score was 37-11 in favor of the Wildcats.
“It seems like we want to be down, so we can pick it up,” stated Churchwell. “You need to start the game the way you want to finish the game.”
Muskegon started the second half with some momentum, scoring the first nine points, pulling down four offensive rebounds and forcing two turnovers before Wayland got on the board.
But Ali Martus hit a three for the Wildcats and they remained in control. Wayland Union senior Presley Hudson scored eight points and pulled down three rebounds in the third quarter.
The Big Reds outscored their visitors 14-8 in the fourth quarter. Churchwell took some solace in the fact that his team played the Wildcats to a 30-30 draw after halftime.
“It should be a pick up. There was a lot of good defense,” said Churchwell.
Cook led the Big Reds with 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting. Sophomore Tasheyana Wyrick pulled down eight rebounds.