By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – It’s a good time to be a Muskegon Big Red, according to Coach Keith Guy.
The Muskegon boy’s basketball team kept things rolling on Friday, holding off Grand Haven 50-41 to capture a Class A district championship at Reeths-Puffer High School.
The Big Reds won their fifth consecutive district title, and Guy, who previously coached at Muskegon Heights, won his 15th straight district trophy.
The Big Reds will face Grand Rapids Christian at Grandville on Monday in the regional semifinals. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m.
“We are just thankful to God and we don’t take this for granted,” Guy said after the victory. “I give them (Grand Haven) a lot of credit. They fought, they’re a great team that is well coached.
“The extra motivation for us was getting a trophy and being able to get back to practice next week.”
Muskegon’s defense was a huge factor in the victory. The Big Reds held Grand Haven to 13 points during the first half, including just two points in the second quarter.
“We wanted to run them off the line tonight,” said Guy. “It was about us getting out to their three-point shooters, and we bothered them tonight.”
The Big Reds were led by Eonte Tornes with a game-high 19 points, Clinton Jefferson Jr. added nine while Willie Shanks grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
Muskegon opened the contest with a 9-0 run, but the Buccaneers countered with an 11-2 spurt to tie the contest at 11-11 after one quarter.
The Big Reds dominated the second stanza, outscoring Grand Haven by a 12-2 margin to take a 23-13 halftime lead. Tornes and Jefferson Jr. each scored six first-half points for Muskegon.
The Big Reds maintained their momentum in the third quarter, scoring eight of the first 10 second-half points to take a 31-15 lead with 3:55 left.
Grand Haven finished the third with a slim 8-6 advantage to cut its deficit to 37-23 heading into the final quarter.
The Buccaneers managed to cut the deficit down to 45-40 with 45 seconds left with late 17-8 run.
But Muskegon closed out the win by scoring five of the final six points on three free throws and an open layup with nine seconds left.
Tornes finished strong, scoring nine fourth-quarter points for the Big Reds, including five free throws.
“It was a big win for us and I am proud of my teammates,” said Tornes, a junior. “It means a lot to be able to play in the next round. We can go all the way.”
The Buccaneers were paced by Kellum Bridgeforth with 11 points and nine rebounds while Dimitrius Neely added 10 points.
“It is tough to go out,” said Grand Haven Coach Greg Immink. “It’s a team I really enjoyed coaching. In terms of the game tonight, we had a difficult time scoring. I credit their defense, which played well tonight.”