Big Reds ready test themselves against tough opponents in the Meijer Hall of Fame Classic and Muskegon Showcase

By Tom Kendra
LocalSportsJournal.com

MUSKEGON – The Muskegon boys basketball team has lost a total of two basketball games over the past two years.

The Big Reds have posted a 51-2 record in that time, with two O-K Black Conference titles, a state championship and a state quarterfinal berth to show for it.LSJ Logo incert

But with several stars from those teams lost to graduation, the Big Reds are facing new challenges this season, starting with three holiday games this week.Hall of fame logo 2

First up is the 14th annual Meijer Hall of Fame Classic on Tuesday and Wednesday at Reeths-Puffer High School.

Muskegon (1-0) takes on a strong Detroit Consortium team on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. It will be the Big Reds’ first game in 18 days, after downing visiting Rockford, 62-49, on Dec. 11 in its only game this season.

Complicating matters is that Muskegon will be playing without head coach Keith Guy, who received two technical fouls in that win over Rockford and must sit out this game.

Consortium (2-1) went 17-6 last season and lost in the Class B regional finals.

If Muskegon is able to get past that opener, it would meet emerging rival East Kentwood – ranked the best team in the Grand Rapids area – in Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. tournament finale.

East Kentwood and Muskegon have played outstanding games in the Meijer Hall of Fame Classic the past three years, with Kentwood winning two of those three matchups – including a 58-57 triumph last year – the Big Reds’ only loss of the regular season.

Big Reds #3 Linwood Lee drives to the hoop photo/Tim Reilly

Big Reds #3 Linwood Lee drives to the hoop for Muskegon against East Kentwood in last year’s Hall of Fame Classic. photo/Tim Reilly

East Kentwood (2-0) was a junior-dominated team last year and is now senior-led. Most notable is Micah Rosser, a 6-4 swingman who hit the game-winning jumper with 2.7 seconds remaining last year against the Big Reds and finished with 32 points.

Muskegon features tremendous depth this winter. The team is led by the senior backcourt of point guard Michael Littlejohn and shooting guard Linwood Lee. The key to the Big Reds’ season could be the development and consistency of the inside trio of juniors Anthony Bethea (6-5) and Jermayne Golidy (6-3) and senior Desi Stephens (6-4).

The Meijer Hall of Fame Classic ranks among the longest-running Christmas tournaments in the state of Michigan. Thanks to an outstanding group of volunteers that help stage the games, the Classic has been able to return well over $120,000 to the participating programs.

The Big Reds complete their holiday challenge at home on Saturday night in the finale of the Muskegon Showcase at Muskegon High School’s Redmond-Potter Gymnasium.

Muskegon will tip off at 7 p.m. against elite prep school Chicago Whitney Young, which has produced NBA players Jahlil Okafor and Quentin Richardson, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama.

The three-hour drive to Muskegon should be an easy trip for Whitney Young (1-0), whose first game of the season was a 78-60 victory over Oakland Bishop O’Dowd High School on Dec. 23 – which was played in Berkeley, Calif.

There will be two prior games at Redmond-Potter on Saturday – Detroit Consortium vs. Westland John Glenn at 3 p.m. and Saginaw Arthur Hill vs. Detroit Cass Tech at 5 p.m.

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MEIJER MUSKEGON AREA SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASSIC At Reeths-Puffer High School

Big Reds #0 Michael Littlejohn hits the runner during Muskegon's game against John Glenn in last year's Hall of Fame Classic. Photo/Tim Reilly

Big Reds #0 Michael Littlejohn hits the runner during Muskegon’s game against John Glenn in last year’s Hall of Fame Classic. Photo/Tim Reilly

Tickets:  $5 each day

Tuesday, Dec. 29

6 p.m. – East Kentwood vs. Lansing Sexton 7:30 p.m. – Muskegon vs. Detroit Consortium

Wednesday, Dec. 30

6 p.m. – Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills vs. Lansing Sexton 7:30 p.m. – Muskegon vs. East Kentwood

MUSKEGON SHOWCASE t Muskegon High School

Tickets:  $10 for all day

Saturday, Jan. 2

3 p.m. – Detroit Renaissance vs. Westland John Glenn 5 p.m. – Saginaw Arthur Hill vs. Detroit Cass Tech 7 p.m. – Muskegon vs. Chicago Whitney Young

 

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