GRAND HAVEN — A strong second half led the Muskegon Lady Reds to victory, but it was a late second quarter flurry that built the momentum used in the second half rally over the Greenville Yellow Jackets.
Playing with three fouls, Muskegon’s Mardreika Cook scored the first half’s final seven points to trim Greenville’s halftime lead to 28-23. That momentum carried over into the second half as the Lady Reds outscored the Yellow Jackets 42-32 in the second half for a 65-60 Class A regional semifinal win at Grand Haven on Tuesday.
“It was definitely an ugly win, but a win nonetheless, so I can’t complain,” Muskegon coach Taushauna Burrell said. “We came out really complacent. I thought if we could make it to the half, and get together at the half, we could come back and play the kind of ball we are capable of. That’s the way the ball bounced tonight.”
Greenville led 13-11 after the first quarter. They started the second half with back-to-back baskets by Paige Hallock for a 17-11 lead. The Yellow Jackets extended the lead to 28-16 with less than three minutes left in the half.
Then Cook — who finished with 17 points — took over. The Yellow Jackets, though, helped with turnovers, missed shots and missed free throws.
“Our focal point was to value the ball. And we did not do a very good job with that in the late second quarter on,” Greenville coach Eric Nichols said. “I thought we should have finished, especially in the first quarter. We should have finished some shots and didn’t.”
Nichols agreed the late first half spurt gave Muskegon the confidence, but he also said his team didn’t help themselves out.
“We talked about this being a game of spurts,” Nichols said. “We had the spurt to take the lead and they came back right before the half. I think we were our own worst enemy and did not value the ball well enough in the last three minutes of the half.”
Muskegon opened the second half with a 10-5 run to pull even at 33-33 with five minutes remaining in the quarter. The Lady Reds led by three points twice in the quarter, before the Yellow Jackets fought back to trail 44-43 entering the fourth quarter.
“I thought the game got physical. We knew it was going to be physical,” Nichols said. “The girls have to learn to adjust, but we were not very good fundamentally in valuing the ball. I keep going back to valuing the ball.”
Through the first three quarters the Yellow Jackets missed 12 free throws (5-of-17). Those points were badly needed in the final quarter.
“We are a good free throw shooting team. That is the difference,” Nichols said. “We were not good at the line.”
Muskegon really put things together in the fourth quarter and opened up a 54-47 lead midway through the quarter. The Yellow Jackets could not get any closer than four points as the Lady Reds advanced with the regional semifinal win.
Hallock led Greenville with 22 points. Landon Kemp added 13 points, while Leah Somerfield added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Kierra Guy and Jade Page also scored 17 points for Muskegon.
Greenville finished the season tied with a school record 20 wins against just three losses.
“We have four great seniors. The thing they have to understand is they all had such important roles in leadership,” Nichols said. “That’s going to be the biggest thing this underclassman group is going to have to do. We have to replace that competitive leadership.”
Muskegon will face Grand Rapids Christian in the regional final on Thursday at Grand Haven. Christian defeated Wyoming 57-48 in the other semifinal on Tuesday.
MUSKEGON 65, GREENVILLE 60
Muskegon 11 12 21 21 — 65
Greenville 13 15 15 17 — 60
MUSKEGON (18-6) — Guy 6 4-9 17, Dame 0 0-2 0, Moore 1 1-2 3, Cook 8 0-1 17, Levelston 4 2-3 11, Page 7 2-3 17. Totals: 26 9-20 65. Three-point goals: Guy, Cook, Levelston, Page. Total fouls: 20. Fouled out: None.
GREENVILLE (20-3) — Moody 2 2-2 7, Bell 1 0-0 3, Kemp 5 0-2 13, Howe 2 1-1 5, Somerfield 2 6-11 10, Hallock 8 5-10 22. Totals: 20 13-25 60. Three-point goals: Kemp 3, Moody, Bell, Hallock. Total fouls: 22. Fouled out: Somerfield.