Muskegon escapes with a win over Kenowa Hills, stays unbeaten in the O-K Black Conference

By Dave Hart
LocalSportsJournal.com

MUSKEGON – Over the last two seasons the Muskegon boys basketball team has played for high-prestige rewards.LSJ Logo incert

The Big Reds captured a state title in 2014, then advanced to the state quarterfinals last season.

But this season Muskegon has had to work a little harder for its victories. Before they can think about state glory, the Big Reds have been forced to focus on securing conference wins.

Michael Littlejohn drives to the basket and looks to pass to the outside. Photo/Marc Hoeksema

Michael Littlejohn drives to the basket and looks to pass to the outside. Photo/Marc Hoeksema

They got one on Tuesday against Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills, but it wasn’t easy.

The Big Reds only led by two points with just over three minutes to play, then finished with a 13-1 run to grab a 48-38 victory over the Knights in O-K Black Conference action at Redmond-Potter Gymnasium.

Muskegon, which is battling for its third straight conference title, improved to 9-3 overall and 4-0 in the league.

Kenowa Hills fell to 5-4 on the season and 2-2 in the conference.

The Big Reds are now on a two-game winning streak after losing back-to-back games against Detroit East English and Wayland Union in mid-January.

Despite getting the victory, Muskegon Coach Keith Guy was not pleased.

“We did not deserve to win,” said Guy, whose team shot only 33 percent from the field and missed nine free throws. “I think Kenowa deserved to win because we did not play hard and we did not play with any passion. It was an embarrassing effort to the Big Red community.

“The focus is still on a state championship and we just have to play better in order to do it. If we play like we did tonight we won’t be there.”

Linwood Lee paced the Big Reds with 14 points while Michael Littlejohn added nine and Jacarius Scott had eight. Jacorey Sullivan grabbed eight rebounds for Muskegon.

The Big Reds managed to hold on to the lead throughout the entire game.

Lee made three first-quarter 3-pointers to help Muskegon take a 15-6 lead at the first buzzer.

Muskegon's Willie Shanks lines up the free throw. Photo/Marc Hoeksema

Muskegon’s Willie Shanks lines up the free throw. Photo/Marc Hoeksema

Kenowa Hills senior Adam Kregel scored all six Kenowa Hills points during the first quarter.

Muskegon increased its lead to 27-12 at halftime, with four points apiece in the second quarter from Littlejohn, Sullivan and Anthony Bethea.

Both teams struggled during the third quarter, with the Knights outscoring the Big Reds 7-6. Muskegon led 33-19 at the third break.

But Kenowa Hills made things interesting by starting the fourth quarter with a 16-4 run to cut its deficit to 37-35 with 3:08 remaining.

Adam Kregel led the uprising for the Knights by scoring nine of his 16 points.

But the Big Reds finished strong, scoring 13 of the final 14 points in the contest. Five Muskegon players scored during the final spurt, led by Scott with four points and Willie Shanks with three.

Kenowa Hills Coach David Chana said his team got back in the game when it forced Muskegon to play in the paint and try to score inside, rather than hit outside shots.

“Early we let them (Muskegon) hit a few threes,” said Chana, who’s in his first season. “We made them take the ball to the ground and send them to our post players.”

The Knights were led by Adam Kregel with 19 points and eight rebounds.

Anthony Bethea drives left for Muskegon. Photo/Marc Hoeksema

Anthony Bethea drives left for Muskegon. Photo/Marc Hoeksema

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