MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – The Reeths-Puffer girls basketball team is difficult to beat when one or two of its big scorers has a good night.
When all three click in the same game, opponents are left with few answers.
That was the case on Tuesday night when R-P hosted archrival Mona Shores in a big O-K Green conference matchup.
Sophia Hekkema pumped in 18 points, Ariel Walker added 16 and Brooklynn Tornes chipped in 13 as the Rockets rolled to a very impressive 52-43 victory over the Sailors.
The win was the fifth in a row for Reeths-Puffer, which is now alone in second place in the conference with a 5-1 record, one game behind Muskegon.
Mona Shores dropped to 4-2 in conference play.
The three Rocket standouts really came through when it mattered the most.
Reeths-Puffer trailed by one point after one quarter, and led by four points at halftime and after three quarters, but the outcome was still very much in doubt.
Then Hekkema got very hot, hitting a three-pointer, two layups and a free throw in the fourth quarter. Walker and Tornes chipped in three free throws apiece as the Rockets outscored the Sailors 14-9 in the final eight minutes to seal with win.
The Rockets did a lot of their damage throughout the game from three-point land, nailing six triples. Hekkema and Tornes each had two while Walker and Megan Barmes each had one.
R-P Coach Rodney Walker was pleased with the way his top three scorers all left their marks against the Sailors.
“I thought they did a great job, especially down the stretch,” the coach said. “I said by midseason we would be in rhythm offensively, and I thought we were tonight, especially in the fourth quarter. They did a good job of looking for each other, reading the defense and attacking the basket.”
The outcome provided a measure of revenge for the Rockets who were around last season to suffer through a loss to Mona Shores in a Division 1 district championship game on their home court.
That was definitely on the players’ minds on Tuesday, according to Coach Walker.
“I think they still have a bitter taste in their mouths from that one, and they wanted to make sure they took care of their home court tonight,” said Walker, whose team is now 8-5 overall.
The lead changed hands four times in the first quarter, and the Sailors clung to a 12-11 lead at the first buzzer.
Mona Shores had six players score in the opening quarter and collected six points at the free-throw line. Tornes led the Rockets in the quarter with five points, including a triple.
The teams traded the lead three more times early in the second quarter, then Reeths-Puffer closed out the half with an 8-2 run to take a 24-20 lead to the locker room.
Hekkema has six points in the second quarter, Walker and Tornes each had two, and Barmes chipped in a big three-pointer.
The Rockets heated up in the third quarter and took control for good. Walker hit a triple less than a minute into the second half, putting R-P up 27-20. Hekkema did the same with 4:41 left in the quarter, giving the Rockets a 31-24 edge.
Tornes tossed in yet another triple with 3:42 remaining and Hekkema added a layup with 3:17 left, and the home team suddenly had a 10-point lead.
Mona Shores finished the third with a 7-2 run, sparked by a three-pointer from Ali Phillips, and R-P led 38-34 heading into the fourth.
Reeths-Puffer took final command by outscoring the Sailors 11-4 over the first five and a half minutes of the fourth quarter.
Hekkema, Ashlynn Anderson and Irelyn Niklasch each had five rebounds for the Rockets while Tornes snagged four. Tornes had five assists and Hekkema had four, while Tornes had five big steals.
Hekkema said the Rockets were fired up for the chance to play Mona Shores and continue their winning ways.
“This is a big rivalry,” she said. “We’ve been playing this team our whole lives, so I was excited to go out there and help my team get a win.”