By Justin Haggerty

MUSKEGON – The Mona Shores girls basketball team has fought hard all season to remain in contention for an O-K Black Conference title, and the Sailors weren’t going to let Zeeland East spoil it for them.

The Sailors pounded the Chix 52-28 Friday to clinch a share of the league crown with Reeths-Puffer, a team that beat them twice this season by very close scores.

Mona Shores, which finished the regular season with a five game win streak, improved to 18-3 overall and 8-2 in the league.

The Sailors will face Reeths-Puffer in a Class A district tournament matchup on Monday.

Sailor Coach Brad Kurth said his team improved since last season, which was no small feat considering several key players from the 2013-14 squad were lost to graduation.

“We knew it would be an uphill battle to get to this point,” Kurth said. “But we’re really proud to be here.

“I think all the people, especially the parents and the community, knew where we were at after we lost 80 percent of our scoring, 80 percent of our rebounding from last year. We know the team that we looked like at the beginning of the season and we know what we are today.

“We’re not done yet. We’ve got a big district and big dreams for that, but I’m sure Reeths-Puffer does too. It’s going to be a battle on Monday.”

Four senior Sailors played their last regular season game Friday – Keziah Brown, Jena’a Matthews, Josalin Sanders-Walker, and Kelsey Wolffis. Their development over time, particularly this season, is a point of pride for their coach.

Kurth is also impressed with the progress that his entire team made this season, particularly on the defensive end of the court.

“At the beginning of the year, our defense stunk,” Kurth said. “Now our defense is our calling card.”

“I think that’s a testament to the kids and their ability to be coached, their ability to play together as a team. The thing people might not see on paper is our girls have great chemistry. They play hard for each other. They play hard because they love the game and they love each other.”

Both teams started out sluggish Friday, with the score just 6-4 in favor of the Sailors. By halftime it was 25-16 Mona Shores.

The Sailors pulled away in the second half by outscoring the Chix 27-12.

Shores was led by sophomore Jordan Walker, who scored a game high 18 points. Shamara Tumblin pulled down 11 rebounds for the Sailors.

Zeeland East was led by Danielle Schutte with 10 points, four rebounds, and five steals.