PARK TWP. – For the first time since 2015, the Muskegon boys basketball team is heading to the state quarterfinals.
Muskegon dominated the second half of a Division 1 regional final against Hudsonville on Wednesday en route to a 63-36 win at Holland West Ottawa High School.
“It’s been a while since we did this,” Muskegon Coach Keith Guy said. “We’re so thankful to God for this. We don’t take any championship or any moment for granted. We get to practice tomorrow. I’m just so happy to spend some more time with these guys.”
The championship is especially meaningful given the journey of this year’s senior group, Guy said. Senior starters Jordan Briggs, Anthony Sydnor III and David Day III were all brought to varsity as sophomores during the condensed 2020-21 season, in the height of COVID, and faced a lot of adversity.
“These seniors went through the toughest time in my career with COVID,” Guy said. “They were moved up as sophomores and it was during the COVID year after we graduated nine seniors.
“We lost a lot of games and people started to write them off. We lost our first district game (in a long time) during that time. These guys kept going through it, and because they hung in there we can reap the fruits of our labor tonight.”
Briggs said those early struggles helped the senior group mature, and said he and his teammates were playing for the class of 2020 on Wednesday night.
“We had to grow up early and we were kind of thrown into the fire,” Briggs said. “I feel like we’ve matured over these few years and it’s really helped us.
“We haven’t won (a regional) in a long time. The 2020 group, COVID shut them down, but I felt like they had a pretty good chance. Coach always tells us to do it for them because we want to finish what they couldn’t do. This is really big for us.”
Muskegon led by just three points at halftime, but dominated the third quarter with stifling defense and hot shooting to blow the game open.
The Big Reds also showcased their depth in the quarter, with seven different players scoring.
“I think our depth is one of the advantages that we have most nights,” Guy said. “We can go 10, 11 deep and trust the guys that play. The guys trust their work, we trust them and we hope to wear teams down. I think we did a little bit of that tonight.”
Muskegon, now 24-2 on the season, advances to face East Lansing (16-9) in the state quarterfinals next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Caledonia High School. The winner will advance to the state semifinals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Friday, March 24.
Both teams were strong defensively early in the game and Hudsonville led 6-5 after the opening quarter.
The offenses found some flow in the second quarter, with Muskegon grabbing a 16-12 edge and leading 21-18 at halftime. Briggs scored 11 points in the second quarter and led all scorers at the break.
The Big Reds opened the third quarter on a 16-0 run and were never threatened the rest of the game. Muskegon outscored Hudsonville 22-4 in the third.
The Big Reds extended the lead to as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter as they cruised to the victory.
Briggs led Muskegon with 18 points, followed by David Day with 11. James Martin scored nine for the Big Reds and TJ Davis had eight.
A total of 11 players scored points for the Big Reds.
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