By Dave Tomczak

MUSKEGON – The Muskegon Community College men’s basketball team ran into an opponent that wouldn’t go way.

Mid-Michigan Community College stayed within striking distance of the Jayhawks for more than a half on Wednesday, until MCC finally hit the throttle and pulled away for a 83-69 win at Bartels-Rode Gymnasium.

That sort of a challenge from opponents should be expected, because the Jayhawks are leading their conference, and everyone wants a shot at them.

Kyle Ervin Jr. sizes up the Mid-Michigan defense before blazing a 3-point basket for MCC. Photo/Jason Goorman

“We got a bullseye on our back,” said MCC forward Kyle Ervin Jr., who had a huge game with 23 points and 16 rebounds. “Teams are going to come at us like they got nothing to lose.”

The Jayhawks are now 19-5 overall and 13-2 in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association’s Western Conference. They have a one-game lead over Lansing Community College and Ancilla College.

They will visit Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor on Friday night.

The Jayhawks jumped out to an early 11-point lead, only to see the Lakers battle back and cut their halftime deficit to 35-32.

MCC stretched its lead to 47-40 with 14 minutes left in the game, but the Lakers responded again, using a 7-2 run over the next minute to pull within two, 49-47.

The Jayhawks finally put the game away with a 13-3 run, sparked by six points from Sergio Diaz and five from Daryl Kirkland. MCC outscored the Lakers 21-13 over a 10-minute span.

“The first half we came out like we wanted to,” Jayhawks coach Dave Schlump said. “The first five minutes were great. Then we settled down. We are at our best when we play with urgency.”

Diaz finished with 19 points, Michael Williams added 14 and Kirkland registered 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Point guard Ricarri Stimage ended the night with 12 points and 12 assists, much to the delight of his coach.

“I can’t say enough about (Ricarri),” Schlump said. “Twelve assists to one turnover, it doesn’t get much better than that.”