By Mitchell Boatman

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – Mona Shores’ James Gilbert lost his starting spot on Monday because he was late for school.

The junior guard made up for it by showing up late with his scoring touch in the Sailors’ win over Reeths-Puffer, as well.

Gilbert scored 16 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to propel Mona Shores to a 79-70 win over the Rockets on Monday night in a Class A district tournament opener at Reeths-Puffer High School.

“You don’t start if you’re late for anything,” Mona Shores coach Doug Burse said. “But I told him, ‘This is for you. You’re a good rebounder and a good shooter. Let’s have some fun and shoot the ball when you get the opportunity.’”

Gilbert did just that in the fourth, equaling the Rockets’ scoring total for the quarter, and grabbing five crucial rebounds as well.

Mona Shores guard Tyrese Allen plays tight defense on David McHugh. Photo/Joe Lane

Jarvis Walker, who scored 29 points for Mona Shores, praised Gilbert’s game, as well.

“I was just cheering him on,” the sophomore said. “I called plays for him because I knew he was on fire.”

Mona Shores (10-11) advances to the district semifinals for a rematch with Grand Haven on Wednesday at Reeths-Puffer. The Buccaneers beat the Sailors 67-31 early in the season.

“That’s going to be even tougher- they’ve got shooters all over the place,” Burse said. “We’ve got to pick it up and surprise them.”

For the third time this season, the Rockets put up a fight against Mona Shores.

In the first quarter, R-P sophomore Emcee WIlliams scored seven points to match Walker in the early going. Walker connected on a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give Shores a 17-14 lead at the first break.

The Rockets won the second quarter with a 24-19 advantage and led 38-36 at the half. Williams and Kaleb Mitchelson combined for 26 points and seven three-pointers in the first half for Reeths-Puffer.

“In the second and third quarter we really were in control of the game,” Reeths-Puffer head coach Lance Johnson said. “That’s the best we’ve shot from three.”

Mona Shores stayed in the game at the free-throw line, going 13-16 in the first half.

The teams traded baskets in the third quarter, with the Rockets grabbing a 16-15 edge for a 54-51 lead.

But Reeths-Puffer’s offense went cold from beyond the arc in the fourth, failing to hit from long range.

“I thought we got good shots for the most part, they just didn’t drop,” Johnson said.

Reeths-Puffer held a 66-65 edge with 3:30 left, but that lead would be their last. The Sailors went on a 14-4 run to end the game, including a perfect 6-for-6 at the foul line.

“We started getting stops and we got rebounds,” Walker said of the spurt. “I kept pushing us up and we kept expanding (the lead).”

Walker’s 29 led the Sailors, while Gilbert totaled 18. Ben Rosenthal added nine for Mona Shores.

Williams finished with 22 points to lead R-P. Mitchelson dropped 21 and Josh Jordan scored 11.

The Rockets finish the year with a 9-12 record.