Davis scores 20, excites crowd with multiple dunks, as Muskegon pounds Forest Hills Central, 69-48Basketball  |
Holland – It had all the makings of an epic showdown when undefeated Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central and Muskegon, which lost just once by one point in the regular season, met Monday night in the Class A regional semifinal in front of a standing-room-only crowd at West Ottawa High School.
Forget the much-anticipated showdown.
It ended up being showtime for fourth-ranked Muskegon during a stunning 69-48 rout of No. 2 Forest Hills Central.
The Big Reds (22-1) slammed and jammed their way to a berth in Wednesday's final against Hudsonville, a 65-52 winner over Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills.
Seniors Deyonta Davis and Joeviair Kennedy combined for 44 points – including five dunks between them in the fourth quarter alone – to spoil a bid by the Rangers (23-1) to continue their perfect season.
“This is what everybody came to see,” Muskegon coach Keith Guy said. “It was a packed house, it was a fun environment and I just thank God that we came out on top. It was fun to watch. It was a big challenge because they were 23-0 and we were, for the first time this year, the underdog, I think.
“We're used to this, because we play (a difficult schedule). It pays dividends in March.”
It paid off in a huge way when Davis and Kennedy took complete control of the outcome throughout the second half.
Davis, a 6-foot-10 shot-blocking terror, scored 20 of his game-high 23 points after halftime, including four jaw-dropping dunks in the final period in front of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who sat courtside. Kennedy, who spurred a late second-quarter surge that put the Big Reds up 31-23 at the intermission, finished with 21 points, including a breathtaking dunk of his own.
“You know how we work. We work together. It's just a lot of fun,” Kennedy said of he and Davis forming an unstoppable tandem. “It just feels great to get a win like this on the road in a such a loud environment.”
“It was a lot of fun. It means a lot,” Davis said of knocking off Central. “We know what it takes to win another ring.”
Central led 16-13 at the end of the first quarter.
The Rangers, who were led by senior shooting guard Alex Dykema's 18 points, held their ground until the final two minutes of the second quarter. The Big Reds used a 12-1 run just prior to halftime to gain momentum.
Immediately in the second half, Muskegon opened up a double-digit spread and never looked back.
“I want everybody to understand we're just not Deyonta Davis,” Guy said of the team's supporting cast. “He's a big part, don't get me wrong, but we've got a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things.
“If you just key on him, other guys can hurt you. It showed tonight.”
Junior point guard Michael Littlejohn, Jr., hit a pair of clutch 3-point field goals in the third quarter and finished with 15 points. His teammate in the backcourt, senior Jason Loera, added eight points.
“I think that's a really good team with some guards that can shoot it and guys that can really attack,” Central coach Ken George said. “I feel like they did to us what we've done to a lot of teams this year.”
George said Muskegon's run at the end of the first half set the tone for the outcome.
“I was so proud of our fight in the first half. I thought we put on a really good show,” he said. “The last two minutes or so, I sort of felt we were on a little bit of a precipice for a bit, and they amped it up quite a bit.
“We survived for a long time without our big kid (sophomore forward Xavier Tillman). Early foul trouble on him was really difficult. I thought with a couple of minutes to go in the first half, their pressure and their athleticism was starting to take a little bit of a toll. We tried to go into survival mode as much as we could.”
Tillman had 11 points and senior forward Chad Bauchan finished with 10.