MUSKEGON — Reeths-Puffer lost to Muskegon Friday night in O-K Black Conference play, 60-43, but Rockets’ coach Lance Johnson found a lot to be encouraged by.
First and foremost, the score belied how close the game was. The teams were tied at 39 going into the fourth quarter before the taxed Rockets, having played only six players all night, ran out of gas, missing five key free throws and losing the ball a few times.
“I’m extremely happy with how we played,” Johnson said. “We competed with a team that’s supposed to be the best in West Michigan all the way through three quarters into the fourth.”
The Rockets might have been able to steal the win if not for yet another incredible effort by Big Reds’ star Jarvis Walker, who seems to save his best for the R-P matchup. Walker went for 34 points, 10 of them in the fourth quarter.
R-P raced out to a 19-9 lead after a quarter, perhaps riding the wave of the energy brought by a big crowd. Back-to-back three-pointers by Emcee Williams early made it 15-5 and forced a Big Reds timeout.
Muskegon switched to a trapping zone defense in the second quarter, and it worked to perfection, enabling the Big Reds to outscore R-P 20-6 in the frame.
The Rockets, though, didn’t fade, storming into the lead late in the quarter on a trey by Williams before a circus shot by Walker tied it at 39 in the final seconds, setting the stage for the Big Reds to pull away.
“I’m really proud of our guys in the third,” Johnson said. “Came back, tied the game up going into the fourth, played great. They showed a lot of heart and a lot of desire. I’m really proud of them down the stretch.”
Williams had 18 points, and Gary Humphrey added 11. Johnson said with Humphrey, an effective post scorer and rebounder, back in the lineup, R-P is as good as any team in the area, and for three-plus quarters, the Rockets proved it.
“Since he’s been back, we’ve had three double-digit wins, and we played Muskegon really tough for three quarters,” Johnson said. “We just have to find a way to have a little more in the tank.”
MUSKEGON (60) Nash 5 0-0 12, Martinez 1 0-0 2, Walker 10 8-8 34, Lee 3 1-2 9, Reynolds 2 1-2 6. Totals 21 10-12 60.
REETHS-PUFFER (43) Fox 2 2-3 6, Mitchelson 2 0-0 5, Humphrey 5 1-3 11, Williams 6 2-2 18, Jordan 0 0-4 0, Smith 1 1-3 3. Totals 16 6-15 43.
Muskegon......... 9 20 10 21 — 60
Reeths-Puffer....19 6 14 4 — 43
Three-point-goals — Muskegon 8 (Nash 2, Walker 3, Lee 2, Reynolds), Reeths-Puffer 5 (Mitchelson, Williams 4). Total fouls — Muskegon 17, Reeths-Puffer 13.
MUSKEGON — Reeths-Puffer earned a rivalry victory over Mona Shores Tuesday night, 75-53, to move to 2-0 in O-K Black Conference play (5-3 overall).
Emcee Williams went off for a career-high 29 points, 19 in the second half, as the Rockets dominated the final three quarters of play, especially the third. The team scored 26 points out of halftime to take command of the game.
Kaleb Mitchelson added 15 points for the Rockets.