By Andrew Johnson
Local Sports Journal
MONTAGUE – Coming off of their narrow win over North Muskegon on Tuesday, the Shelby Tigers came out with a roar on Thursday night.
Montague fought back and made a game out of it, but Shelby pulled away in the fourth quarter to seal a 58-43 victory Thursday in a key West Michigan Conference boys basketball matchup.
Shelby remained unbeaten on the season with a 12-0 overall record and an 8-0 league mark.
Montague fell to 5-6 and 2-6.
The visiting Tigers got an opening possession basket from junior Jeff Beckman and immediately went into a full court press. The defensive pressure produced numerous turnovers and easy buckets for Shelby, which found itself leading 11-0 three minutes into the game.
The Tigers pulled away from the press after a time out, and led 19-8 at the first buzzer and 33-21 at halftime.
Beckman scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half for the Tigers.
The Wildcats refused to go quietly in the second half. They opened the third quarter with a 10-5 run and only trailed by four going into the fourth. Joe Marsh paced the Montague uprising with five third quarter points.
Shelby’s Caleb Anderson opened up the scoring in the fourth quarter with a big 3-pointer, following two offensive rebounds by Beckman. That extended the Tigers’ lead to seven and Montague never got closer than that.
Anderson finished with 14 points.
Shelby put the press back on to secure the victory down the stretch. Montague had six of its 17 turnovers in the final quarter, allowing the Tigers to close the game with a 16-5 run.
“We’re a young team and we’re still learning to close out games,” said Montague Coach Dave Osborne.
Shelby Coach Rick Zoulek said he hoped to press more, but said his team was tired after playing three games this week.
“I wanted to save it for the second half if in case we needed it,” Zoulek said.
Hamann Merritt and Josh Weesies led Montague with 11 and 10 points, respectively.