By Andrew Johnson

MUSKEGON – Bench strength is a big plus at any level of basketball.

And it’s a really big advantage when a sub can enter a game and lead all scorers.LSJ Logo incert

That’s what Ralph Monday did for the West Michigan Lake Hawks on Saturday night, leaving the pine to score 29 points in a 130-104 victory over Team NetWork in ABA action at Reeths-Puffer High School.

Ralph Monday on the two-point put back for the Lake Hawks. Photo/Jason Goorman

Ralph Monday on the two-point put back for the Lake Hawks. Photo/Jason Goorman

Other leaders of the Lake Hawk offensive explosion were Josh Langford with 19 points, Tevin Bradley with 17, Will Wright with 15, and Terry Walker and Jacob Owens with 13 apiece.

The Lake Hawks improved to 11-4 on the season and remained in second place, behind the Kalamazoo Pure, in the league’s North Central Division.

Their next home game will be Feb. 20 against the Flint Chargers at Reeths-Puffer High School at 6 p.m.

Lake Hawk head Coach Ronald Jenkins said Monday is a great example of the depth the Lake Hawks have.

“Ralph is easily a starter, he’s one of our original starters this season,” said Jenkins, whose team had 10 players available on the bench while Team NetWork had only one.

“It’s good to show the depth we have. When we sub him in, he’s able to keep the momentum going for us, and that’s huge.”

Starting or subbing, Monday said he will do whatever he’s asked to do in the cause of victory.

“It felt really good, I’m just doing what I’m used to,” said Monday, who also pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds. “I’m just trying to help my team out any way I can.”

The game was close for the first quarter. The Lake Hawks led 31-28 at the buzzer, thanks to a 10-4 run at the end of the quarter, sparked by back-to-back buckets from Langford.

Josh Langford gets ready to crush the put-back dunk of a rebound for West Michigan. Photo/Jason Goorman

Josh Langford gets ready to crush the put-back dunk off a rebound for West Michigan. Photo/Jason Goorman

West Michigan gained the upper hand in the second quarter, opening with a 14-0 run, with included five points from Walker, and led 63-50 at halftime.

The two teams exchanged scoring bursts in the third quarter and the Lake Hawks led 93-75 heading into the fourth.

West Michigan opened the final quarter with a 15-4 run to put the game out of reach. Langford was again a sparkplug, pouring in six of those 15 points.

The Lake Hawks had a big advantage on the boards, outrebounding Team NetWork 65-43, including 22-18 on the offensive end.

Besides Monday’s 16 rebounds, Wright and Aaron Davis grabbed 10 boards apiece.

“The message was to get down and box out for rebounds,” said Jenkins. “We had the size advantage inside and at halftime we made some adjustments and took advantage of it.

“Overall I was happy, we have some things we need to tighten up defensively. It’s about preparing for the playoffs right now, we have a few games left and it’s important that we tighten up defensively.”

Fred Williams led Team NetWork with 37 points on the night.