Big Reds boys pull away from Jenison, clinch fifth straight conference championship

By Mitchell Boatman

MUSKEGON – Another year, another O-K Black Conference title for the Muskegon boy’s basketball team.

The Big Reds dominated the fourth quarter to pull away for a 67-46 win over Jenison, clinching their fifth straight league championship.

During that streak, Muskegon has won 55 consecutive conference games.

“We’re definitely excited about that,” said Muskegon Coach Keith Guy, whose team is now 14-3 overall and 11-0 in league play. “We don’t take any championship for granted. Any time you can get a trophy and some hardware it’s a blessing, so we’re happy.”

Muskegon’s Eonte Tornes pushes the ball up the court for Muskegon. Photo/Jason Goorman

A big reason for Muskegon’s success has been senior guard Willie Shanks Jr., who scored 15 points on Tuesday.

“We kept the streak alive, so it’s a great feeling,” Shanks said after the game. “It means a lot. Five years in a row winning it, it feels great.”

The victory didn’t come as easily as the final score might suggest. The game was tightly contested most of the way, with Muskegon leading by just five points early in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats stayed in the game because of standout guard Jacob Boonyasith, who scored 34 points despite playing against a tight Muskegon defense.

“He’s a great player,” Shanks said. “I’m going to give him his credit. He’s a Division 1 player to be honest. We had a high hand on him, but he was making his shots. I’ve got to give him his props.”

Guy said he knew Boonyasith would score, but it was the other Wildcats he was worried about.

“Our plan tonight was to not let the others beat us,” he said. “(Boonyasith) had a tough 34, but no one else scored in double figures. I thought the game plan was solid.”

The Big Reds raced out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, not allowing a point until the 3:45 mark. The quick start was just what the Big Reds were looking for.

“One point of emphasis tonight was that we wanted to have a good start,” Guy said. “I would have liked to have sustained that throughout, but they made a run.”

Jenison closed the first quarter with a 10-3 run to make the score 13-10 at the first buzzer. The teams went back and forth in the second, with three ties and four lead changes. Muskegon ended the half with a 9-2 run to take a 31-27 lead.

Muskegon outscored Jenison 12-9 in the third quarter to extend its lead to 43-36.

After Boonyasith scored to open the fourth quarter, Muskegon exploded for a 17-2 run to go up 60-40 and put the game away.

“I thought we really closed the game well with 24 points in the fourth quarter,” Guy said. “We won every quarter tonight, so I’m happy about that. That’s the plan.”

Eonte Tornes scored 18 points to lead the Big Reds.  DeAndre Carter added 10 points while Billie Roberts grabbed 10 boards.

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