By Justin Haggerty

MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Big Reds have owned the O-K Black Conference in recent years, capturing the title the last two seasons and going a combined 20-0 in the process.lsj-fb-logo

However, it’s a new era for Muskegon. The Big Reds return just one starter from last season – point guard Michael Littlejohn – and a host of less experience players.

But if Friday night is any indication, Muskegon Coach Keith Guy has little to worry about.

Mona Shores senior Kobe Burse drives baseline on Muskegon guard No. 4 Desi Stephens. Photo/Jason Goorman

Mona Shores senior Kobe Burse drives baseline on Muskegon guard No. 4 Desi Stephens. Photo/Jason Goorman

Against O-K Black rival Mona Shores, Muskegon scored the first nine points and never looked back, opening conference play with a 64-43 win at Redmond Potter Gymnasium.

“I don’t think we played particularly well, no flow to the game,” said Guy, whose team improved to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference. “I’m thankful for the win, Shores played hard, it was an ugly game to say the least.”

The Big Reds won’t have time to enjoy this win, since they host Ypsilanti (6-0) Saturday evening.

Neither team came out of the gate strong, combining for five turnovers in the first three minutes. But Muskegon managed to take a 9-0 lead out of the gate and never trailed in the game.

“The first half, our turnovers and free throw shooting really hurt us,” said Mona Shores Coach Gene Gifford. “We had four (turnovers) in our first five possessions. It gave them some momentum.”

Each team converted just two of eight free throw opportunities in the first half.

“We were awful,” Guy said. “I can’t speak for them, but I know we were awful.”Midnight sun web ad

The Sailors fought back to get within 13-9, but Muskegon went on a 14-0 run in the first and second quarters, led by junior Jermane Golidy with six points in the stretch.

Shores trailed 31-15 at halftime after hitting just 6 of 18 shots from the field.

In the second half, Guy inserted freshman guard Deandre Carter Jr., who stole the show, scoring 12 of his game-high 15 points down the stretch.

Despite being unimpressed with his team’s play on Friday, Guy knows this team has the potential to succeed.

“I get it, we’re young,” Guy said. “But you have to learn how to play for 32 minutes and we haven’t put that game together yet.

“We’ll take the win, an ugly win is better than a pretty loss any day. Give Shores credit though, they played hard and had a lot to do with it, we were just unfocused tonight.”