A tournament atmosphere was in the air during the headline game of Saturday’s Muskegon Basketball Showcase between Muskegon and Chicago Curie.
The Big Reds fell to Curie 63-58 after an intense battle. But Muskegon left the impression with fans at Redmond-Potter Gymnasium that they can compete against anyone.
“This was a tournament atmosphere,” said Muskegon Coach Keith Guy. “There’s only so many times you can replicate that, and we just talked about our kids playing hard that way all of the time.”
It was the first real test for Muskegon, which played a Curie team that was ranked No. 19 in the nation by USA Today. And the Big Reds showed they have a lot of bite in their game.
For Muskegon’s DeAndre Carter and De’Airrus Ware, it was a break-out game.
Carter came in off the bench when Muskegon was down 10-2 in the first quarter and tallied 11 of his 17 points, leading the Big Reds to an 18-16 lead at the first buzzer.
“We’ve been wanting him (Carter) to play this way all year, and we’ve been holding him to a high standard,” said Muskegon Coach Keith Guy about Carter. “Tonight was that night.”
Perhaps the most impressive moment of the game for Ware came with 52 seconds left in the first quarter. The senior forward pulled down an offensive rebound, stepped back and dunked in two thunderous points, was fouled and completed the 3-point play to put Muskegon up.
Ware finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.
“The kid (Ware) plays tough,” said Guy. “He is seeing how we need him to play, and he stepped up on that level tonight.”
Muskegon got a spark in the second quarter from Vern Nash, who scored six of his eight points, leading the Big Reds to a 30-24 lead at halftime.
Currie came out in the second half and outplayed Muskegon in transition and on the fast break, taking a 45-43 lead.
The Big Reds responded in the fourth with eight points from Ware and trailed just 57-56 with a minute left to play.
Muskegon turnovers and 6 of 8 shooting from the free throw line by Chicago ended up burying the Big Reds in the final minute.
But for Guy, the game was not taken as a loss.
“A lot of people wouldn’t have taken this game against the No. 19 team in the nation,” said Guy, whose team is now 5-2. “But we don’t care, we want to get ready for March. We might take some lumps, but that’s okay because we’re going to be better because of it.”
Curie was led by DaJuan Gordan, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the final quarter. Justin Harmon finished with 14 points.
MUSKEGON BASKETBALL SHOWCASE
OAK PARK 78, WESTLAND JOHN GLENN 73 – A 25-point third quarter and four players in double figures was the difference for Oak Park. Maliq Carr tallied 10 of his 22 points in the third quarter to lead Oak Park who played the Rockets to an even 32-32 halftime score. Oak park was also led by Frederick Garland with 17 points, Devonte Edwards added 16 points and Marcel Carter chipped in 13 points in the win. Westland John Glenn’s Renel Thraser scored a day-high 28 points for Westland John Glenn. Joe Moon IV finished with 16 points and Elijah White added 15 points in the losing effort for the Rockets.
DETROIT KING 45, KALAMAZOO CENTRAL 43 – The Crusaders trailed 12-2 after the first quarter but managed to hold Kalamazoo Central to four points in the second quarter and trailed 16-15 at halftime. Detroit King took a 36-31 lead off of 21 third-quarter points as Jordan Whitford led Detroit King with 15 points and John Massey Jr. scored 13 points. Justin Davis led Kalamazoo Central with 16 points while Trevon Gunter scored 11 points.