By Dave Hart

MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – The Reeths-Puffer girls basketball team opened districts on Monday as a heavy favorite to advance to the next round.

But by the time the game was over, Rockets coach Brandon Barry felt fortunate that his team has a chance to play another day.

The Rockets fell behind early, regrouped to take a 10-point lead at halftime, then held off Mona Shores to gain a 48-36 victory in the quarterfinal round of the Division 1 district tournament at Reeths-Puffer High School.

The Rockets, now 14-7 on the season, will face Kenowa Hills on Wednesday in the district semifinals. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

“I felt like coming into the game we knew how to defeat Mona Shores,” said Barry. “Then we don’t execute the rules (of the game plan) to beat them. The game felt so awkward and slow and we didn’t achieve that high level that we are used to. It’s fortunate that we got through this to get to Wednesday.”

Reeths-Puffer’s Morgan Gates looks for the open person. Photo/Joe Lane

The Rockets were paced by Lauren Ross with 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists while Emily Caltagirone added eight points. Bridget McHugh pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.

The Sailors jumped out to a slim 6-5 lead after the first quarter on three-point baskets by Julia Tierman and Riley Rosenthal.

Reeths-Puffer pulled ahead during the second quarter, outscoring the Sailors by a 22-11 margin to take a 27-17 lead at halftime.

Ross scored 11 of her 18 points during the second quarter, with nine coming from the free throw line.

The Sailors managed to cut their deficit to 33-28 with one minute left in the third quarter, but Reeths-Puffer scored the final five points to maintain a 10-point lead, 38-28, heading into the fourth.

The Rockets closed out the contest with a 10-8 fourth quarter advantage, led by Ross with five points.

“The kids battled until the end,” said Mona Shores coach Mike Phillips, whose team finished the season with a 5-15 record. “I give credit to Reeths-Puffer for coming out.”

The Sailors were paced by Brooke LeRoux with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Rosenthal added 10 points and Tierman scored eight.