Monday, January 12, 2009

HOOPS: Muskegon Heights vs. Sexton

**Drew Valentine goes up for 2 of his 18 points**
**Denzel Valentine splits the top of a zone**
**Sean Davis led the Hieghts with 18 points**
**Lemarcus Beckem catches an ally**

Lansing- Saturday afternoon Muskegon Heights traveled south to take on the Big Reds of Sexton High School and while Sexton controlled most of the game it was their inability to handle a frantic Muskegon press in the final minute that allowed the visiting Tigers to steal a 73-67 win.

Drew Valentine got going early and his offensive tip back gave Sexton an 8-3 lead but then both defenses flexed their muscles and points were hard to come by as Sexton led 13-7 at the end of the first quarter.

Four straight points from Denzel Valentine extended the Big Red lead to 17-9 early in the second. Muskegon answered with a run and a lay up from, junior, Jamil Thornton tied the game at 21-21. A 3-pointer from sophomore Tyrin Wade capped a Sexton 8-0 run but then Muskegon finished the quarter with their own 8-0 run to make the score 30-29 in Sexton's favor at the half.

Sexton controlled the momentum and the scoreboard for a majority of the second half but the Big Reds just couldn't distance theirselves from a scrappy Tiger team. Sexton controlled a 61-52 lead, with 5: 23 left in the fourth, on a Nate Duhon 3-pointer but a 13-3 run and a 3-pointer from Muskegon's Moses Buckley cut the Sexton lead down to a single point with 1:30 to play. A Tiger's foul shot tied the game with 56 seconds left and a steal from Ricarri Stimage turned into a Buckley lay up to give Muskegon their first lead of the game at 68-66 with 50 seconds left. Muskegon was able to knock down five foul shots in the final 20 seconds to seal the win.

BREAKDOWN: Sexton had control of this game for four quarters but it was the turnovers late in the game that killed them. The Heights is a scrappy team and Coach Keith Guy always has his teams well prepared year in and year out, so you just knew Muskegon was going to hang around. Muskegon pressed periodically the whole game and Sexton handled it well, but I'm just not sure why they had trouble late in the game as Muskegon forced 4 steals in the final two minutes. But Sexton will be just fine down the road because they are still gelling as a team since this was just Drew Valentine's third game back from injury. Once Valentine gets fully comfortable the Big Reds will be tough to beat.

PLAYER OF GAME: Sean Davis, Heights- a lanky wing that can spot up and shoot but is most dangerous when he slices his way to the basket. The 6-2 senior finished with a team high 18 points.


Jullian Plummer, Heights- a nice player who relies on his physical traits. The 6-6 forward had a quiet day as he battled foul trouble trying to guard Drew Valentine. On another note Plummer was listed as a freshman last year but is now a junior and it was confirmed by his coach.

Ricarri Stimage, Heights- logged 7 points but came up with 2 big steals in the game's final minute to give his team the lead.

Drew Valentine, Sexton- in his third game back Drew still doesn't look 100% but he was easily the best player on the court. Drew just has a feel for the game and always seems to make the right play. Led his team with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Denzel Valentine, Sexton- the young freshman made some real nice plays and was solid taking care of the ball against the press. He was five of six at the free throw line as he finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals.

Nate Duhon, Sexton- added 17 points for Sexton.

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