By Ron Rop
Senior JaKari Edwards scored 21 points and junior JaQuan Matthews scored 12 to lead Muskegon Heights to a 47-44 victory over the Fruitport Calvary Christian Eagles.
The Division 4 district title game was played at Calvary Christian.
Friday night’s result moves the Tigers into Monday’s regional semifinal game at New Buffalo, where they will face Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian, a 60-35 winner over Martin on Friday night..
Edwards’ 21 points, included five 3-pointers while Matthews total came on four 3-pointers.
“JaKari Edwards and JaQuan Matthews have been up since their freshman year and they both played on the wings and I figured if we were going to let anyone decide things, it would be them,” Heights coach Dalrecus Stewart said. “They carried us in the game and they deserved a chance to decide the game. I am so proud of them.”
Down the stretch when both teams took turns owning the lead, Matthews bagged a 3-pointer that gave the Tigers a 42-40 lead. But then Calvary answered with two free throws from Bradley Richards and a 15-foot jumper from Jacob May and Calvary had a 44-42 lead.
Matthews hit yet another long range 3-pointer and after an Eagle turnover, Edwards hit two free throws and the Tigers were able to hang on.
On the other side of the scorebook, Eagle leader scorer Bradley Richards was limited to seven points due to some early foul trouble, a bloody nose and the pesky Tigers’ defense. Richards was whistled for his second foul just 2:16 into the contest and took a seat on the bench for the remainder of the quarter. His first point of the game came on a free throw with 1:47 remaining in the second quarter.
Things got worse for Richards early in the third quarter when he took a ball in the face and left for 4 1/2 minutes due to a bloody nose.
But on a night when Richards wasn’t the leading scorer, others stepped up throughout the contest and gave the Eagles a chance to win.
Senior guard Jacob May withstood the Tigers’ high-pressure defense and finished the game with 14 points. Fellow senior Ethan Cammenga battled inside all night long and finished with 11 points. Senior Raj Grewal added eight points.
“We’re trying to find a way to win and a lot of guys poured their hearts out,” said Eagle coach Brad Richards. “They believed. We thought right to the end that we were going to do it. Give them credit,
Matthews and Edwards made some big shots down the stretch.
“I didn’t think it was bad defense, I think they rose up and shot these really long 3-pointers and they went in.”
“I tell you what, you have to tip your hat to Fruitport Calvary,” Tiger coach Stewart said. “This could have gone either way all the way down to the last second. We knew it was going to be a tough fight.”
Muskegon Heights takes a 13-6 record into regional action. Fruitport Calvary, which has never won a district title in boys basketball, finished the season at 16-6. That win total is the second-most in school history.
Check out photos from the action shot by Michael Banka.