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North Muskegon’s perfect season ends with crushing regional defeat on off-balance OT buzzer-beater

Norsemen close spectacular run through 2023-24 season with 24-1 record.

Anytime a special season comes to end, emotions are sure to swirl.

Tuesday night’s season-ender for North Muskegon’s boys basketball team may have hurt a little more for the Norsemen.

At the end of 36 hard-fought minutes of a Division 3 regional semifinal, Pewamo-Westphalia’s Kash Pohl hit an off-balance 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer in overtime to stun visiting and unbeaten North Muskegon, 43-40.

North Muskegon, which had completed the first perfect regular season in school history, closes with a 24-1 record.

“We defended the last play well and Kash Pohl was able to hit a really tough shot over a set of hands to win it,” North Muskegon coach Chuck Rypstra said. “You never want the season to end, but it always does and that makes it hard, but if it wasn’t worth losing then it wouldn’t be worth doing.”

Pewamo-Westphalia (23-2) advances to Thursday’s 7 p.m. regional final on its home court against Grand Rapids Covenant Christian (17-8), which ran past Delton Kellogg in Tuesday’s first regional semifinal, 89-28.

On Feb. 9 at Covenant Christian, North Muskegon spoiled the Chargers’ homecoming night by coming away with a 62-54 nonleague victory.

P-W also defeated North Muskegon in last year’s regional semifinals, 49-46.

Photos by CJ Bennett for CatchMark

In the rematch Tuesday, the first half was tightly contested as P-W led 11-9 after the first quarter and 18-17 at halftime.

The Pirates stretched their lead in the third quarter with the help of back-to-back and-ones, but a 3-pointer by Norse junior James Young kept his team with 31-24 entering the fourth quarter.

North Muskegon battled its way back in the fourth, outscoring P-W 12-5 in the quarter to knot it up. The Pirates had a look at a 3-pointer to win it in regulation, but the shot was off the mark.

In the four-minute overtime, buckets by sophomore Adam Dugener with two minutes to go and by senior Lamarkis Graham with one minute to go tied the game at 38 and 40, respectively.

“It was a great defensive game tonight,” Rypstra said. “Both teams gave up very few good looks. With offense hard to come by, every possesion was magnified. They just made one more play than us.”

Dugener led North Muskegon with 15 points, while senior Jaxon Lisinski scored 12, and Graham had seven. Junior TJ Byard recorded four blocks for the Norsemen.

Trevor Smith led P-W with 13 points, while Grady Eklund scored nine, and Reece Thelen eight.

Graham, Byard, Young, and other Norsemen basketball players also were part of the Norse football team that was perfect in the fall. During that run, North Muskegon defeated Pewamo-Westphalia in the season opener (17-14) and in the Division 7 regional final (28-27). The Norsemen finished the football season 12-1 after falling to Menominee in the state semifinals.

“Super proud of my guys and all the effort they put in to get to this point,” Rypstra said about his basketball team.

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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