Dale Vos has been a part of countless basketball games.
But he has never seen anything remotely close to what took place Friday night during the East/West Classic at St. Clair County Community College.
The SC4 Athletic Director and men’s basketball coach watched his women’s team storm back from an 18-point halftime deficit to defeat Muskegon Community College. Afterward he was on the sideline to watch his men complete an even bigger comeback.
After trailing 19-0 five minutes into the game, the Skippers roared back to defeat Muskegon Community College, 96-90, in one of the greatest comebacks you will ever see.
“I’ve never been a part of a game like this,” Vos said afterward. “There was a point where we were down three points and I said to myself we have to somehow win this game. We’ve put too much into it to lose.
“But I thought to myself how can two teams on the same night come back like that.”
The Skippers (3-2) found their way back behind a balanced scoring effort. Jeremy Landers paced SC4 with 18 points. Jason Watts added 14 points, Jay Springs had 10 points and Matt Russell scored seven.
Eddie Thornes scored 20 points and Aaron Sydnor scored 18 to lead Muskegon (1-1).
It was all Muskegon at the onset of the game. They charged ahead 19-0, which drew a passionate plea from Vos, who chided his team for making the same mistakes over and over again.
“All of the frustration that had built had to come out,” he said. “The next timeout I was still upset but I was much more calm.”
The Skippers got the message. After surrendering the early deficit, the Skippers finally got on the scoreboard at the five minute mark and began chipping away at the lead.
But they still trailed 55-32 at halftime and the win appeared totally out of reach.
“Our team won’t quit,” Landers said. “We know to win the game we have to fight hard and play defense as a team to get the win. This game showed us in the second half how we can really play together. When we play as a team we can get a lot of turnovers and push the ball when we play as a team.”
“No matter the scoreboard you have to keep playing and finish,” Watts said. “The last two games we came out and we weren’t ready. We can battle back. We just have to keep fighting.”
In the second half the momentum began to turn the Skippers way. They drew within 65-50 with 12:42 left to play in the game, but the Jayhawks answered with a run to bring the lead back to 18 points with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game.
That’s when the Skippers turned their intensity up a couple of notches and finally found their groove. Their pressure defense led to several Muskegon turnovers and helped SC4 cut the lead to single digits with just over seven minutes to play.
They completed the comeback and tied the game at 83 with 3:47 remaining.
Russell gave SC4 its first lead of the game at 86-85 with 2:22 to play and then followed up that effort with two game deciding plays a minute later. First he made a free throw to bring SC4 back within a point after Muskegon took a 88-86 lead. On the following two defensive possession he forced steals, which led to easy SC4 baskets and the Skippers never looked back.
“I felt I played terrible the first 35 minutes of the game,” Russell said. “But my teammates kept me up. Jeremy (Landers) picked me up tonight and stayed with me and it led to those (plays).”
The hard fought win appears to have given SC4 new life after falling in back-to-back games entering the match-up. SC4 will return home at 5 p.m. tonight against No. 15 ranked Kalamazoo Valley Community College to conclude the East/West Classic.
“I think it’s a good thing we play (today),” Vos said. “We expended a lot of energy tonight but you have to think the short turnaround is a good thing after this win. I hope it carries over for us.”
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @jhayes1136.