MUSKEGON – Jaxson Whitaker has already proven to be the top three-point shooter in Reeths-Puffer boys basketball history but the junior guard for the Rockets put together a performance for the record books Monday in the opening round of the Division 1 district tournament.
Despite his team trailing Kenowa Hills 10-6 after the first quarter of play, Whitaker kept his cool and calmly knocked nine 3-pointers over the course of the contest to finish with 35 points and spearhead a 75-61 win over the Knights.
Reeths-Puffer outscored Kenowa Hills 52-26 in the second and third quarters to pull away and fended off the Knights in the fourth quarter to secure the hard-fought win.
Travis Ambrose added 20 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for Reeths-Puffer, while Antrel Jones added five points and five rebounds, Marvin Moore had five points and four assists, Kyle Schlaff had five rebounds and four assists and Brayden Mitchelson added six assists.
“It was a great night after a slow start to the game,” said Reeths-Puffer head coach Nate Aardema. “Jaxson had the best shooting night of anyone I have ever coached or coached against. He made threes off the dribble, off the catch and just about any way imaginable. This was a season-high for us in assists and the second highest scoring game of our season. We did a great job of moving the ball and finding the open guy. It was a really fun night.”
The Rockets (14-9) advance to face Coopersville (15-8) in the Division 1 district semifinals on Wednesday at 7 p.m. from Coopersville High School.
Below is a look at how all the Muskegon-area boys basketball teams fared during the opening round of the 2023 district tournament.
Big Rapids 62, Ludington 61
The Orioles trailed 41-39 at halftime and fought back from a 7-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to take a 60-57 lead with 2:40 left in regulation before the Cardinals tied the game at 60-60 with a 3-pointer from Mason Dunn.
Owen Gammons scored with 48 seconds remaining to give Big Rapids a 62-60 before Ludington made one of two free-throw attempts with nine seconds remaining. After the Cardinals missed a free throw, the Orioles attempted a 3-point shot at the buzzer but it fell off the mark to give Big Rapids a dramatic win Monday in the opening round of the district tournament.
David Shillinger led Ludington (20-3) with 15 points, while Matthew Westhouse added 14 points, and Gage Jones had 13 points.
Dawson Dunn led Big Rapids with 19 points, while Karlito McKinney added 14 points.
Big Rapids (20-2) advances to host Hart (22-0) in the Division 2 district semifinals on Wednesday.
Coopersville 47, Grand Haven 44
The Broncos used a stifling zone defense to stymie the Buccaneers and take a 17-15 lead at halftime and a 31-28 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Buccaneers continued to battle down the stretch but a game-tying field goal attempt in the closing seconds of the game fell short and the Broncos secured an upset over Grand Haven for the second straight season.
Porter Kretschman led Coopersville with 20 points, while Mark DeVries added 15 points.
Harrison Sorrelle led Grand Haven with 20 points as he finished his prep career second in career points scored in program history. Grand Haven finishes the season 17-6 overall.
The Broncos (15-8) advance to host Reeths-Puffer (14-9) in the Division 1 district semifinals on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Fruitport 48, Montague 35
The Trojans opened the game on a 17-8 run to take control of the contest and fended off the Wildcats the rest of the way as they picked up a first-round victory in Division 2 district action.
Grade Anspach led Fruitport with 12 points, four rebounds, and three steals, while DayDay Williams added 10 points and two steals and Andrew Spyke added 10 points and four rebounds.
Owen Raeth and Cortland Schneider each scored seven points and added five rebounds to lead the Wildcats, while Rodney Brassfield added six points and 10 rebounds and Hunter Osborne added five points.
Montague finishes the season 12-11 overall.
Fruitport (14-9) advances to host Whitehall (17-5) in the Division 2 district semifinals on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Ravenna 52, Western Michigan Christian 49
The Bulldogs outscored the Warriors 13-9 in the fourth quarter after trailing by one point at the end of the third quarter to secure a hard-fought win in the opening round of the Division 3 district tournament on Monday.
Caleb Forsythe led Ravenna with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals, while Carter Schullo added 12 points and seven rebounds and Blake Homoly had nine points, five assists, five steals and four rebounds.
Kevin Jackson led Western Michigan Christian with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Ben Moorhead added 13 points, three steals and two blocks.
Western Michigan Christian finishes the season 7-16 overall.
Ravenna (9-14) advances to take on North Muskegon (17-4) in the Division 3 district semifinals on Wednesday at Holton High School.
Grand Rapids Union 75, Mona Shores 63
The Redhawks used a 21-6 run in the third quarter to pull away from the Sailors and fended off the challengers in the final quarter of action to secure a spot in Wednesday’s district semifinals.
Jordan Bledsoe led Mona Shores with 16 points and four rebounds, while JT Foster added 13 points and five rebounds, Ryan Opsommer had 13 points and Paul Ritter had four assists.
Mona Shores finishes the season with a 5-18 record.
Grand Rapids Union (15-7) advances to face Muskegon (20-2) in the Division 1 district semifinals on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. from Coopersville High School.
Shelby 53, Manistee 36
The Tigers held a narrow 27-24 advantage at halftime and closed out the game on a 19-8 run to secure a first-round victory over the Chippewas on Monday in Division 3 district action.
Bishop Lee led Shelby with 19 points, while Wyatt Dickman added 14 points, Phillip Hayes had 10 points, and Mason Garcia added seven points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Jacob Scharp led Manistee with 14 points, while Ethan Edmondson added four points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Manistee closes out the season with a 5-18 overall record.
Shelby (12-11) advances to take on host Mason County Central (15-7) in the Division 3 district semifinals on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Grant 64, Newaygo 48
The Tigers used a fast start to take control of their district opener against the Lions and continued to pull away down the stretch and secure a spot in Wednesday’s district semifinals.
Caris Nelson led Newaygo with 16 points, while Dyllan Bazzett added 10 points.
Newaygo finishes the season 13-10 overall.
Grant (12-10) advances to face Fremont (11-11) in the Division 2 district semifinals on Wednesday from Comstock Park High School.
Oakridge 76, Orchard View 54
(No player stats reported)
Orchard View finishes the season 2-21 overall.
Oakridge (11-12) advances to face Spring Lake (12-8) in the Division 2 district semifinals on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. from Fruitport High School.
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