By Andrew Johnson

GRAND RAPIDS – It’s funny how one tipped pass at a key moment can bring a team’s great season to a screeching halt.lsj-fb-logo

But that’s tournament basketball.

The Muskegon Heights Tigers were in a tight, low-scoring battle with Grandville Calvin Christian on Wednesday in the Class C regional finals at Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian High School. There were 29 seconds left and the Squires led by two points.

Muskegon Heights called time out, then inbounded the ball with the hope of tying the game or taking the lead. But a Tiger pass into the paint was tipped and the Squires gained possession.

Muskegon Hegiths No. 4 Anthony Jones goes up for two in the lane. Photo/Jason Goorman

Muskegon Hegiths No. 4 Anthony Jones goes up for two in the lane. Photo/Jason Goorman

Calvin Christian’s Jake Arnoys was fouled with 17 seconds left and made two free throws, which sealed a 39-35 victory for his team and ended Muskegon Heights’ dream of a trip to the state final eight.

Muskegon Heights finished the season with a 19-4 record and a district championship. Calvin Christian advances to next week’s state quarterfinals.

“I first want to say congratulations to Grandville Calvin Christian, they played a good game tonight,” said Tigers Coach Del Stewart. “My heart is heavy right now, we worked really hard and I just thought we were a bit cold and couldn’t get shots to go down.

“It was a special season, there was so much that has happened through the year, one thing to the next, and it seemed like these guys kind of mounted the entire community on their shoulders and it was fun.”

Scoring was tough for each team all night and the first quarter ended with Muskegon Heights up 7-6.

The Tigers looked like they might take control in the second quarter, opening with an 8-1 run, paced by four points from DeKari Brown. Muskegon Heights led 15-7 when the Squires called time out.

Calvin Christian regrouped and responded with a 9-0 run on three straight triples to take a temporary lead. The game was tied 18-18 at halftime.

Nobody gained an edge in a slow third quarter. Calvin Christian outscored the Tigers 8-6 and led 26-24 headed into the fourth.

In the fourth quarter, Muskegon Heights took a 29-28 lead with 5:15 remaining after a three-pointer from Anthony Jones.

The two teams exchanged baskets and the game was knotted 31-31 with 4:05 remaining.

Kieshon Watson prepares for the Muskegon Heights score. Photo/Jason Goorman

Kieshon Watson prepares for the Muskegon Heights score. Photo/Jason Goorman

After two Calvin Christian free throws, Kieshon Watson of Muskegon Heights tied the game back up at 33-33 with 2:47 remaining.

But the Squires ended up scoring their final six points at the free throw line and claimed the regional trophy.

A key point of the game came with about two minutes left, when Muskegon Height’s Deondre Wilson hit a layup to pull his team within two points, 37-35.

Calvin Christian inbounded the ball, ran dribble handoffs and cut about 1:20 off the clock before the Tigers finally heeded calls from their bench to foul and stop the clock.

“I tried communicating to everyone to play up and trap the dribble handoff but I take the (blame) for them not being able to hear me,” Stewart said.

That led to the tipped inbound pass, turnover, and the two free throws by Arnoys with 15 seconds left.

Brown led Muskegon Heights with 11 points while Anthony Jones and Antoine Jones each added nine.

Tony DeWitte led Calvin Christian with 10 points.