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Muskegon upsets Grand Rapids Christian, 64-53, faces Hudsonville next

By: Lenny Padilla, March 15, 2016, 12:00 am

Caledonia – If Jacarius Scott was a boxer, he would have landed a knockout blow early in the bout.

The Muskegon High School senior guard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter and the Big Reds went on to beat Grand Rapids Christian 64-53 on Monday night in a Class A regional semifinal at Caledonia. 

“It was going through my head that ‘I hope I make it. I hope I make it,’ ” said Scott, who had a team-high 17 points. “When it released from my hand I thought ‘oh yeah, I got it.’ It gave us a lot of momentum because it was a big shot at the end of the third quarter. They had got on a little run, so that helped.”

The Big Reds (20-3) advance to the regional final on Wednesday when they take on Hudsonville (18-4) at 7 p.m. Hudsonville beat Lowell 51-36 in the other semifinal. 

“If we close the game out, and these guys quit giving me gray hairs, I’d be much better off,” Muskegon coach Keith Guy said with a laugh. “We started fouling at the end and making crazy turnovers. For the most part, I’m happy with the game.”

The Big Reds jumped out to a 19-8 lead in the first quarter and led 30-24 at halftime. Their defense held Christian’s 6-foot-8 junior forward Xavier Tillman scoreless in the half. 

“I wasn’t confident,” said Tillman, who finished with 13 points. “In the second half, my coach said ‘you only had two shots in the first half.’ So in the second half I decided to score as much as I could.”

Scott leads a trio of dynamic, quick guards, who were too much for the Eagles.

“Our guards are very scrappy,” Scott said. “We like to get in there and make them turn the ball over. We play tough D.”

Seniors guards Linwood Lee had 11 points and Michael Littlejohn had nine. Senior forward Terrion Hill-McKay had 11. 

“I feel like we’ve been overlooked all year,” Guy said. “We didn’t lose to any slouches. We lost to Chicago Whitney Young, Detroit East English and we lost to Wayland. Those are all ranked opponents. Teams would kill for only three losses right now. We can’t go undefeated every year.”

Scott said it will be a tough matchup with Hudsonville. The former OK Red Conference rivals did not play each other this season.

 “We watched the first half,” Scott said of the Monday’s regional. “We have to close out on the shooters and stop the penetration.”

Christian coach Mark Warners wasn’t surprised by how good Muskegon is.

“We knew they were good,” he said. “I don’t feel like we underestimated them at all. They made shots. We’d make a run and grinding it out. And we’d finally think we are a stop or two away and they’d hit another tough shot.”

Tillman finished with 13 rebounds and three blocked shots. But he was just 1-of-9 from the free-throw line. Sophomore guard Duane Washington Jr. had 12 of his 15 points in the second half and junior forward James Beck had 11 of his 13 points in the first half.