By Dave Tomczak

MUSKEGON – TJ McKenzie opened the high school basketball season with a bang, then wrapped up the night with some thunder.

McKenzie hit a 3-pointer two minutes into the game for North Muskegon’s first points of the season. He added 14 points in the second half, including a dunk in the final minutes of the contest.

By the time it was all over, McKenzie piled up 27 points and the Norse rolled to a 63-33 victory over host Muskegon Catholic in the season-opening contest for both teams.

North Muskegon’s No. 32 Eric Rypstra drives left past the MCC defense. Photo/Jason Goorman

McKenzie’s early triple helped North Muskegon grab a very nice 8-0 lead in the first quarter.

Despite the hot start, Norse Coach Chuck Rypstra was not too thrilled with his team’s shot selections.

“We shot too many 3’s, too early,” Rypstra said. “Later on, we got the same shots, but those came after we made some passes.”

Jesse Cooke scored eight points in the first quarter and the Norse led 12-5 at the first buzzer.

Then McKenzie took over, scoring 10 of his team’s 15 points in the second quarter, allowing the Norse to go to halftime with a 27-12 lead.

The Crusaders, who also had too many long shots in the first half, attacked the rim in the third quarter in an effort to cut their deficit.

Sophomore guard Cameron Martinez hit 5 of 6 free throws in the third, but the Norse still finished with a 13-11 advantage in the quarter and had a 40-23 advantage heading into the fourth.

“We had too many jump shots in the first half,” said MCC coach Lamar Jordan. “In the second half we did a better job attacking and getting to the rim, but we still couldn’t get any stops. And you can’t get back into the game that way.”

The Crusaders had no answer for McKenzie. With De’Shary Warren running the offense, and the Norse picking apart the MCC press, McKenzie scored 14 points in the second half, all by driving to the basket.

He put the finishing touches on his night with a 2-on-1 fast break dunk with 3:12 left in the game, putting the Norse up 63-33.

“I think I rushed things a little bit early on,” McKenzie said. “Some early-game jitters. But coach told us all to settle down and be patient.”

McKenzie finished the night with four steals, four rebounds and three assists. Cooke had 14 points and six rebounds. Warren scored 10 points and John Hayhurst added three steals.

Muskegon Catholic was led by Martinez with 10 points and seven rebounds and Andre Watson III with 10 points and four assists.