Photos by Scott DeCamp for CatchMark, Craig Smith for Muskegon High School and Joe Lane for Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame
MUSKEGON – As the son of the Muskegon Heights Police Chief, Maurice Sain Jr. knows he’s in the public eye and that he’d better be on his best behavior.
He can’t even get away with anything at home.
“No,” he said with a smile while shaking his head.
“It’s pretty interesting. A lot of people know my dad, so they think they know me and they always hit me with the, ‘I know your dad …,’ so it’s pretty fun.”
On the basketball court, Muskegon High School’s 6-foot-6, 174-pound senior small forward is making a name for himself now.
In Muskegon’s 61-42 victory over East Kentwood in the 19th Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Holiday Classic Tuesday night at Reeths-Puffer, Sain made plays all over the floor. He displayed a reliable touch from mid-range and finished with 14 points as the Big Reds improved to 2-0 on the young season.
Junior Jordan Briggs scored a game-high 20 points to lead Muskegon against East Kentwood (0-2), while senior Ethan Hill had 10.
Sain is seldom the leading scorer for the Big Reds, but he does all the little things that help them win and compete at a high level.
“Yeah, he’s that guy – he’s our glue guy,” Muskegon head coach Keith Guy said. “You know, he guards the other team’s best player and he makes plays when we need him to. He can do it all. He can get us into the offense, he can guard the post, he can shoot the jump shot, get to the basket … he does a lot.”
Sain, who is a 3.4 student, knows the game well and there’s a good reason for that. Guy is his uncle, the brother of Maurice Sain. (They have the same father.)
“Moe” Sain graduated from Muskegon Heights in 1994 and he played basketball for the Tigers along with Guy, a 1993 Heights alumnus. Guy and Sain have coached together for 19 years, first at Muskegon Heights and then at Muskegon.
Moe Sain is a towering figure at 6-5. He played basketball at Muskegon Community College, and around that time is when he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Sain, 46, became the Muskegon Heights Police Chief last January. He joined the police force as a patrol officer more than two decades ago and steadily made the climb to chief.
He is well-respected in his roles on the police force and basketball court. He also understands it’s a privilege to be able to coach his son and watch him grow.
“He’s been around the program ever since he was probably 2 years old when we were coaching at Heights, so just being able to get an opportunity to watch your son grow and develop into a young man and carry on some of the things that you’ve tried to teach (is special) and he’s done a great job at that,” Moe Sain said.
Nor does Maurice Sain Jr. take it for granted.
To him, it’s special having grown up around the game as long as he can remember and having the influences of his father and uncle.
“Me being so young, always watching them coaching other guys, and now actually playing for them, it’s like truly a blessing,” Maurice Sain Jr. said.
Moe Sain said that he knows what Guy is thinking before he does or says something, and vice versa.
It’s a tight bond that they’ve always shared. Coaching together, Guy is the more animated of the two and paces the sideline, while Sain sits nearest Guy’s spot on the bench and he is generally a calming influence.
Maurice Sain Jr., 17, has seen the dynamic at play basically his entire life. He understands that with any successful team or program, people must embrace their roles and do them well.
“I take a lot of pride in it, just being the guy in practice when we need the energy — just to bring the energy so we have a good practice and get ready for the next game,” he said.
Sain works on his game often, including that mid-range jumper. He said he’s drawing attention from colleges such as Aquinas, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Olivet. He aspires to be an athletic trainer, following in the footsteps of Big Reds trainer Ted Quick.
Sain is happy to continue doing the little things that help the Big Reds be successful, and his father couldn’t be more pleased with that attitude.
“I think it’s very important,” Moe Sain said. “I mean, when you talk about having a great team, any great team that you talk about, they’ve always got a guy that’s willing to do the dirty work.
“He prides himself on working hard and being the guy that don’t mind diving on the (floor) for a loose ball or guarding the best player on the other team. And he’s a playmaker – he loves making plays for other teammates more than (for) himself. That’s a good job and I’m proud of who he has become as a young man.”
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