By Mitchell Boatman
MUSKEGON TWP. — The Reeths-Puffer boys aren’t playing their best basketball yet this season, and found themselves up against one of the better teams — and best players — in West Michigan on Friday night in the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Classic.
The results weren’t pretty for the Rockets.
Grand Rapids Christian dominated from the opening minutes and dealt R-P a resounding 71-45 defeat on the Rockets’ home floor.
“We knew we were going to be in for an uphill battle tonight,” said R-P coach Lance Johnson. “We just didn’t play well. They’re a great team with a lot of athletes.
“We should’ve been more cautious about slowing the game down a little bit. With a team like that and a player like Kobe Bufkin, you don’t want the game to be up and down.”
The Eagles were led by Bufkin, a junior four-star recruit, who totaled 27 points and connected on 13 of 20 shots from the field, including a thunderous windmill dunk to open the fourth quarter.
“He’s a really, really good player,” Johnson said. “He made a handful of extremely tough shots. Props to him. He’s really, really long. He’s got a crazy first step that’s long and quick. He can shoot the three so well. He’s very, very talented.”
The Rockets, who were expected to be among the area’s best teams this season, fell to 2-3 after starting out 13-1 a year ago. Johnson said getting his whole team back together and playing hard will be the keys to turning the season around.
“We haven’t had our full team yet for any games, that’s been a struggle,” the coach said. “We get Gary Humphrey back after this game, he’s our best rebounder. We’ve got to get Daven Fox healthy, that will help us.
“I told the guys, we’ve got to get back to playing harder than other people. I thought last year we went into each game and knew we were going to outwork people. We’re just not there right now.”
Grand Rapids Christian jumped out to leads of 8-0 and 17-2 during the first quarter. The Rockets rebounded with a 7-0 run to gain some momentum back, but Bufkin hit a deep, buzzer-beating three to put his team up 20-9 at the first break.
The Eagles won quarter two 16-9 to lead 36-18 at the half. Bufkin scored 19 points in the first two quarter on 8-for-11 shooting.
Reeths-Puffer was outscored 19-11 in the third quarter and trailed 55-29 entering the fourth. The teams played an even fourth, each scoring 16 points.
Josh Jordan led the Rockets with 14 points. Kaleb Mitchelson followed with 12, including three triples, while Jason Ledford tossed in eight.