By Craig Beilfuss
MUSKEGON–The Muskegon Big Reds survived an overtime thriller on Wednesday evening, 81-79 iver Grand Rapids Catholic.
It was the final game of the Hall of Fame Classic held at Reeths-Puffer High School.
Muskegon senior Jordan Briggs carried the offensive load for the Big Reds with a game-high 35 points. That total included six 3-pointers.
“He should be in the Mr. Basketball conversation,” said Muskegon coach Keith Guy. “He’s a great basketball player and it is time for people to start respecting him.”
Muskegon connected on 13 shots from beyond the 3-point line, including three from David Day, who finished with 11 points and M’Khi’ Guy, who came off the bench to hit three important shots from long distance.
The Big Reds had plenty of opportunities to put the game away. They led by 15 (66-51) with just over f5 minutes remaining in regulation, but couldn’t cash in at the free throw line where they went 18-of-34.
“Not good. We shoot the ball too well to do that,” said Guy. “The last three to four minutes of the game we didn’t play up to our standards. All these games help us. I was definitely happy with our balance, nine kids played and nine kids scored. We still haven’t played with our entire roster.”
Muskegon held a slim 19-17 lead at the end of the first quarter, as Briggs led with eight points.
The Big Reds extended their lead to 40-31 by halftime by outscoring the Cougars 21-14 in the second stanza. Briggs sank 15 of those points for Muskegon.
“Early on, our game plan was to get the ball inside but we got into some foul trouble,” Guy said.
Both teams put up 16 points in the third quarter and Muskegon carried what seemed like a comfortable 56-47 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Cougars fought back from a 15-point deficit and racked up a 29-20 scoring advantage during the final 8 minutes of regulation and eventually tied the game on a 3-point shot with 10 seconds remaining to knot the score at 76-all.
Muskegon came up empty on a last-second shot attempt as time expired to end regulation.
The Big Reds held a slim 5-3 scoring advantage in overtime to pull out the win.
“We could have folded when we got to overtime but we won the game,” Guy said. “We were able to collect our composure. Give them (GR Catholic) credit. I thought we would make better decisions. They have played three tough opponents. They could easily be 3-0. We played a really good team tonight.”
Muskegon (3-0) will take some time off and will be back in action on Friday, Jan. 6 when they will return to Reeths-Puffer in an OK Conference-Green matchup.