Muskegon void of superstars, carries on with depth and continues to be a title contender
Muskegon – Two years ago Muskegon coach Keith Guy had two of the state’s top players and won the school’s first state title.
This season Guy has a bunch of no-name, undersized players and lo and behold the Big Reds are one of a dozen or so Class A teams in the hunt for a state title.
On Saturday Muskegon defeated previously unbeaten Ypsilanti 54-41 to improve to 6-1 and the Big Reds, snubbed by State Champs! in its preseason top 25 rankings, are ranked No. 9 in the Super 10.
Lesson learned. It isn’t always about the Jimmys and the Joes.
Guy coached at Muskegon Heights before coming to Muskegon and Class A basketball on the state’s west side hasn’t been the same since. Deshawn Thrower transferred from Muskegon Heights to Muskegon after his freshman year to be with Guy. Thrower’s sophomore season also saw a skinny freshman within the program. His name is Deyonta Davis. Thrower, a point guard and the quarterback on the football team, developed into a leader and he led Muskegon to the state title his senior year. Thrower was named Mr. Basketball, the first player from Muskegon High to be so honored. With Davis on the inside the two formed an unbeatable combination.
Last season Muskegon reached the quarterfinals and with the graduation of Mr. Basketball winner Davis and three other starters many thought the program would enter a rebuilding stage.
Before the season Guy said his team was young, talented and not very tall. And without Davis in the middle Guy went back to coaching the type of team with which he had become accustomed.
Admittedly spoiled by having the luxury of coaching a 6-9 center with tremendous shot-blocking skills that Davis had, Guy doesn’t have a player taller than 6-4.
What Guy has built is a program, one where players like Thrower and Joeviair Kennedy, a senior last season, come back to encourage those who took their places with words only former players can offer. During the holidays the two looked the players on this season’s team in the eyes and explained the importance of carrying on what they had helped build.
There isn’t a Mr. Basketball candidate on this team. It is possible freshman DeAndre Carter, Jr., will be in the class of 2019 but it’s too early to predict. What this team does have is depth and balance. Michael Littlejohn, the lone returning starter, is averaging 15 points. Linwood Lee, one of the top reserves last season, is averaging 13 points and Jermaine Golidy is one of the team’s most athletic players. Golidy is a 6-3 junior who’s averaging 14 points in his first season on varsity. Golidy was good enough to be on varsity last season but Guy said he would have seen limited playing time and he wanted Golidy to gain confidence and experience.
Guy didn’t come to Muskegon to coach a team that would be competitive now and then. He made the switch to build a perennial winner. The Big Reds have six seniors and Guy plays 10 on a regular basis. He said the other levels from the junior high on up are solid and that the Big Reds will be a factor come tournament time for years to come.