By Andrew Johnson
That team happened to be the Northern Indiana Monarchs, who wandered into Muskegon High School on Sunday and left with an ugly 125-91 loss, courtesy of the Lake Hawks.
A key to the Lake Hawk victory was a big third quarter, when the local squad outscored the Monarchs 39-22.
Lake Hawks Coach Ronald Jenkins said that his team decided to be patient on defense before applying pressure in the third quarter.
“We wanted to be a little bit more laid back and not put too much pressure out there while we have guys banged up and playing back-to-back nights,” said Jenkins, whose team shot a blazing 53.2 percent from the floor.
Josh Langford led the offensive effort for West Michigan with 34 points in 29 minutes of action. Langford shot 15 of 20 from the field, while also grabbing 11 rebounds.
“Josh has been playing good consistent basketball lately and he’s just an all-around player on both sides of the game,” said Jenkins. “We’re really excited to have a player of his caliber because he’s the type of player that teams in the development league or overseas will look for.”
Terry Walker Jr. nearly had a triple double for West Michigan with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. JhaMonte Melton added 17 points for the Lake Hawks while Louis Williams chipped in 16 points.
The Lake Hawks will now take three weeks off to rest and rehab injuries before facing the Kalamazoo Pure – the top ranked ABA team in the nation – at home on Jan. 31. The Lake Hawks lost to the Pure in December by one point in overtime.
“The coaches are going to make sure everyone is staying healthy and involved,” Jenkins said. “I want to make sure we have a lot more community involvement right now because I think our guys can play even better with more crowd support.
“Getting healthy and staying in the gym will be the biggest things. We’ll go two days this week and then hopefully these guys will put individual work in on the days we’re off.”
The Lake Hawks purposely set up their schedule so that they could have most of January to get healthy while other teams are playing a lot of games, according to Jenkins.
“The way we did our schedule is unique because we’ve already played 13 games and some teams are still at 9 or 10 games played,” he said. “Those teams will have to put wear and tear on their bodies while we’ll be able to rest up and revitalize ourselves so we can get stronger down the stretch.”
West Michigan is now 9-4 on the season and ranked seventh nationally, but Jenkins isn’t completely satisfied.
“I think being ranked in the top ten nationally is a huge plus for us and I think it shows the hard work and sacrifice these young men are putting in day in and day out,” Jenkins said. “As a coach, I think we’re still looking to put four quarters together but they guys have been working on it.
“But overall these guys are doing a great job of representing West Michigan and Muskegon County and that ranking proves it.””
Overall Langford leads the team in scoring averaging 17.7 points per game while shooting 68.79% on the season. Ralph Monday leads the Lake Hawks in rebounds, averaging 7.5 per game while also scoring 10.5 points per game.