HOUGHTON LAKE -- Muskegon Heights junior guard Deontae Hudson was looking to pass the ball to a teammate as the final seconds tolled off the clock in overtime Tuesday. Hudson couldn't find anyone open, so he took the shot himself, a long rainbow of a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded.
The shot went in, hitting nothing but net, and Muskegon Heights was a sudden 61-58 victor over Petoskey in the Class B quarterfinals at Houghton Lake. As the Tiger players, coaches and fans ran onto the floor and began celebrating wildly, the stunned Petoskey players slowly and sadly made their way through the crowd. The long playoff run was over for the Northmen and so was the season.
"I couldn't be prouder of this group of guys," Petoskey coach Dennis Starkey said. "Not only for this game, but for the whole season. It was a true team effort, we had contributions from everybody."
Petoskey (23-2) battled tooth and claw to stay in the game after top scorer Cory Starkey went down with a twisted ankle midway through the third quarter. Starkey returned in the fourth, though clearly not at 100 percent. When Starkey left the floor, Petoskey trailed by a point, 32-31. When he came back nearly seven minutes later, the score was tied at 41.
In his absence, sophomore Zak Lewis and senior Grant Tracy hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pick up the slack and junior forward Nick Manzer came off the bench to score the tying bucket.
"That's been the case for the team all season," coach Starkey said. "Different people made big plays when we needed them after Cory went down."
Muskegon Heights (21-4) coach Keith Guy expected his team to create separation on the scoreboard after Starkey went down. When it didn't happen, he told his players they would have to win a close one.