By Justin Haggerty
The Big Reds entered Friday’s Class A district championship game against Grand Haven with a great deal of momentum. They outscored their opponents 142-67 in the first two games of the tournament, and didn’t slow down in the finals.
The Buccaneers hung tough for a half, and trailed by just seven points at the break. But the Big Reds turned on the jets in the second half and cruised to a 70-43 victory and the district title on their home court.
Muskegon, now 23-0 on the season, advances to face Grand Rapids Christian in the first round of regionals on Monday at Grand Haven High School at 7 p.m.
It should be a great matchup. Grand Rapids Christian also comes in with a perfect 23-0 record.
“Two good teams, everybody’s been looking forward to this match-up,” said Muskegon Coach Keith Guy. “We’re just happy to be playing, it doesn’t matter who it is.
“We’ve got to come out and play. When you get a district championship and move on to regionals, there’s no pushovers. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night, we understand that. We’re just going to try to prepare and let the chips fall where they may.”
Muskegon jumped out to a 14-5 lead in the first quarter against Grand Haven, but the Bucs put up a fight for a while. They cut their deficit to 14-12 and ended the first down by only five.
Jermayne Golidy powered the Big Reds in the first quarter with 10 of his game-high 18 points.
The Buccaneers continued to be scrappy in the second quarter and only trailed 31-24 at halftime. Drew VanAndel paced Grand Haven in the first half with nine points.
But Muskegon came out for the third quarter with defense on its mind, and defense sparked its potent offense.
The Big Reds outscored Grand Haven 39-19 in the second half, with nine different players putting up points. Guy said he was happy about his team’s lock-down defense down the stretch.
“Our program is built on defense,” the coach said. “Defense wins championships and offense sells tickets. We’re trying to win championships. We can’t do that without playing defense. Our guys have bought into that from day one, and they know that’s how we’re going to get it done.
“I’m just proud of how we executed our game plan tonight.”
Sam Cornett had 14 points for Muskegon while Anthony Bethea and Markell Jackson each scored 10.