By Seth Vanderwest

MUSKEGON–As soon as the clock hit triple zeroes, a raucous cheer broke out among the crowd. Dozens of fans rushed onto the court, clutching balloons, posters, and pieces of paper to be autographed.

The occasion?

Muskegon head coach Keith Guy had just reached the career milestone of 400 victories. The game was played in the Muskegon Showcase Classic on Saturday at Muskegon High School.

“Let me thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for just allowing us to come out tonight and compete,” said Guy, who has served as Muskegon’s athletic director and boys basketball coach for the past 11 years, following a 9-year stretch as Muskegon Heights’ coach. 

The Big Reds defeated Ferndale 62-51 in a matchup featuring one of the top teams on the east side of the state versus one of the top teams from the west. The visiting Eagles reached the Division 2 state semifinals in both of the past two seasons and bested Muskegon last season 57-46.

(Photo/Tim Reilly)

The Big Reds did a solid job handling the Ferndale press throughout the game, rarely turning it over and dismantling it several times for easy buckets. 

“We didn’t do so well [against the press] when we played Grand Rapids Catholic, and I thought we were better this time,” said Guy. 

The Big Reds ended the first quarter up 14-11 but drew foul after foul on Ferndale in the second to extend their lead to 30-22, with free throws playing a large role. Ferndale ended the first half with 13 team fouls. 

Ferndale came out swinging in the third quarter, but the Big Reds held steady and maintained a 39-34 advantage. 

Muskegon’s Jordan Briggs and M’Khi Guy hit back-to-back three-pointers to begin the fourth quarter, and the Big Reds never looked back en route to their 62-51 win. 

Guy explained that their game-plan was to keep Ferndale out of the lane and take pride in winning individual matchups. 

“Ferndale’s a very, very good opponent, but we wanted to slow them down by not letting them get into the paint too much because they like to kick it out for threes. We told our guys to win your battle- the 1-on-1 battle- and make them work on the defensive side.”

“We missed some defensive assignments in the first half to keep them in the game, but we tightened them up in the second half.”

Jordan Briggs led all scorers with 24 points and went 9-for-11 from the free throw line. Stanley Cunningham and Anthony Sydnor III chipped in 11 and 10 points apiece. 

The Big Reds (5-0) host Zeeland East in an OK-Green matchup on Tuesday evening. Game time is set for 7 p.m.