By Justin Haggerty

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – The Muskegon girls basketball team was not willing to quietly exit from the O-K Black Conference championship race.Midnight sun featured imageLSJ Logo incert

That probably would have been the result if the Big Reds had lost to Reeths-Puffer on Friday.

But Muskegon avenged an earlier loss to the Rockets, and pulled into a tie for second place in the conference, with a convincing 57-39 road victory.

Mardrekia Cook goes in for two points for the Big Reds. Photo/Tim Reilly

Mardrekia Cook goes in for two points for the Big Reds. Photo/Tim Reilly

Muskegon and Reeths-Puffer have identical 5-2 records and trail league-leading Mona Shores, which beat Grand Rapids Union Friday, by just one game.

It was the Big Reds third consecutive victory and snapped the Rockets’ two-game winning streak.

Assuming no upsets before then, a Reeths-Puffer victory at Mona Shores to end the season would create a three-way tie for the league championship.

“I think we executed really well defensively tonight,” said Muskegon Coach Rodney Walker. “I’ve been saying all season that we have a well-rounded team, it just depends on who shows up.

“Tonight, everybody was involved. (Renee) Sischo came in and gave us a huge boost hitting three-pointers. Mardrekia Cook basically controlled the entire game tonight, she got everybody involved at the right time.”

Cook, an All-Stater who will play at Michigan State next year, finished with a game-high 24 points and 13 rebounds.

Muskegon jumped out to a 6-0 lead four minutes into the game before the Rockets’ Elysia Mattos scored the first four points for R-P. The Big Reds led 11-9 after the first quarter.

The second quarter was a shootout. Cook scored nine of the Big Reds’ 24 points in the frame while Mattos led the Rockets with seven of her team’s 17 points, and Muskegon had a 35-26 edge at the break.

Muskegon outscored the Rockets 22-13 in the second half to seal the win.

R-P struggled the entire game to find consistency and establish any type of offensive flow.

Muskegon's Diynasti Dowell goes for the ball against the Rocketes' No. 32 Elysia Mattos. Photo/Tim Reilly

Muskegon’s Diynasti Dowell goes for the ball against the Rocketes’ No. 32 Elysia Mattos. Photo/Tim Reilly

“One word… dysfunctional,” Rockets Coach Brandon Barry said of his team. “We didn’t play together defensively, out of sync offensively. We had two of the best practices all year leading in, we felt really good.

“We lost our focus early and for some reason never got it back. A 13-win team never got their focus back and that’s a little bit concerning. To lose to a good basketball team, that happens all the time. To lose your focus and then not gather yourself, that’s what I was concerned about tonight. I don’t know that I led very well tonight.”

Mattos finished with 20 points for Reeths-Puffer while Artrese Williams adding nine of her own.