MONTAGUE — Montague’s boys basketball team did a lot of things well in Wednesday night’s showdown with unbeaten North Muskegon — except for close the game.
The Norsemen scored the first bucket of the game, then chased the Wildcats the rest of the night. They never surrendered, however. In fact, they turned up the pressure in crunch time.
In a mix of give-away and take-away with a wild ending, North Muskegon rallied in the final seconds with the help of turnovers for a 47-45 victory over host Montague in a West Michigan Conference nondivisional thriller.
The win keeps the Norsemen perfect on the season at 15-0. The Wildcats, meanwhile, see their four-game winning streak snapped and now sit 9-6.
“It was a great test for us tonight and Montague absolutely played us tough. We tried to make some runs but they always had an answer and we needed some heroics late to get the win,” North Muskegon coach Chuck Rypstra said.
Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark
With 11.5 seconds remaining, Montague led 45-43 and the Wildcats were in-bounding the ball under North Muskegon’s basket. Norse junior TJ Byard stole the in-bound pass and fed it to senior Lamarkis Graham, who banked in a shot to tie the game with 8.8 seconds left.
On Montague’s ensuing possession, again under the North Muskegon basket and following a timeout, miscommunication led to an errant pass. Graham scooped up the loose ball and he absorbed a hard foul. Graham calmly swished both free throws with 5.6 seconds left to put the Norsemen ahead, 47-45.
Montague had a chance to tie or win the game, but a heave by senior Owen Raeth from halfcourt was off the mark and sailed out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left. The play was drawn up to be a pass, but when it did not develop as expected, Raeth took a desperation shot.
Under the Montague basket, North Muskegon in-bounded the ball and sophomore Adam Dugener tossed it in the air to burn off the remaining time. The ball hit the rafters on Dugener’s toss and Montague’s bench pleaded to officials for one last chance, but the refs ruled the game was over.
Graham finished with a game-high 15 points, 10 in the second half. He also grabbed five rebounds.
North Muskegon junior James Young had 13 points and three steals, while Dugener aded 10 points.
For Montague, seniors Isaiah Atchison, Paul Olson, and Raeth led the way. Atchison finished with 11 points and seven blocks, Olson scored 11, and Raeth chipped in 10 points.
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