By Lucas Rains
MUSKEGON – The girls basketball race in the O-K Black Conference just got a lot more interesting, courtesy of the Muskegon Big Reds.
Reeths-Puffer entered Friday’s game against Muskegon with a one-game lead in the league. But the Big Reds, led by three players scoring in double figures, upset the applecart with a 58-54 win over the Rockets on their home court.
Reeths-Puffer is now tied with Mona Shores for the league lead with a 6-2 record.
“It was just a good team win for us tonight,” said Muskegon coach Taushauna Burrel, whose team is now 8-9 overall and 4-4 in the league. “Some of our players stepped up, our bench players stepped up.”
Muskegon led for most of the contest, but the Rockets made a late push, tying the game twice in the game’s final minutes.
Reeths-Puffer’s Elysia Mattos hit layup with 15 seconds remaining, narrowing the Big Red lead to 55-54.
But Muskegon’s Shawnteanna Dame was fouled with eight seconds left and sunk both of her free throws to put her team up by three. The ensuing Reeths-Puffer inbound pass was intercepted, and Muskegon’s Mardreika Cook made the second of two free throws to ice the upset victory.
Muskegon got big scoring outputs from two surprising players – Jessica Jackson and Tierra Williams.
Jackson was on fire early on, hitting three 3-pointers in a two-minute span to boost the Big Reds.
“(Jackson) knocks those shots down all the time in practice,” Burrel said. “For her to hit three in a row was huge.”
Williams led all scorers with 21 points, with most coming in transition.
The game was a bit of a coming-out party for Williams, a sophomore. Just three weeks ago a knee injury threatened the rest of her season, but it wasn’t as serious as originally feared and she was able to resume play.
“She’s our miracle player,” Burrel said. “Tonight (Williams) came out with no fear. When she’s playing like that, it takes a lot of pressure off of Mardreika. You can’t really double her then.”
The first quarter was back and forth, with both offenses playing well. The Rockets had three players score four points in the quarter and the score was tied 17-17 at the buzzer.
Cook scored seven of her 14 points in the second quarter and the Big Reds took a two-point lead into halftime.
The third quarter featured runs for each team. A 6-0 Muskegon burst was followed by an 8-0 Rocket run that gave R-P its final lead of the game.
But Muskegon regained the lead 46-43 by the end of the third quarter.
The Rockets tied the game twice down the stretch, but were unable to make the big shot to bring them all the way back.
Reeths-Puffer, now 14-4 overall, was led by Camaryia Williams with 15 points, Delaney Bolles with 14 and Brooke Larabee with 12.
Dame finished with 10 points for the Big Reds.