Jordan Briggs put on another shooting clinic Saturday night in front of a packed house at Muskegon’s historic Redmond-Potter Gymnasium, repeatedly elevating and hitting 3-pointers and mid-range jumpers, making it look effortless.
While the Muskegon senior has certainly been blessed with plenty of God-given ability, there is so much more to his story.
To fully understand Briggs’ emergence as one of the state’s best pure shooters, you had to be in the gym this summer when there was no crowd, no opposing team, no coaches and no media – just Briggs and the school’s shooting machine.
The only sounds on those days were the squeaks of his shoes echoing off the walls, followed up repeatedly by the swish of a leather ball through nylon. Five-hundred made shots every day. No exceptions. No excuses.
“I love to shoot,” said Briggs, a 6-foot-1 senior who scored a team-high 24 points Saturday to keep Muskegon undefeated with a 62-51 victory over Ferndale in the finale of the three-game Muskegon Basketball Showcase.
“I never get bored, and I could do it all day. That work I’ve put in gives me and my coaches confidence to take those shots in games. I pretty much have the green light.”
He’s not kidding.
Late in the first half Saturday, Briggs had the ball on a 2-on-1 fastbreak when he suddenly pulled up and fired a 3-pointer, which just rimmed out. Muskegon coach Keith Guy, who loves his team to constantly attack the rim, clapped his approval.
“Jordan is a pure shooter,” explained Guy, whose team is 5-0 and 1-0 in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Green. “But he’s also crafty with the basketball. He can get other guys involved and he’s got it on a string, so that’s a nightmare for other teams.
“A lot of great shooters can’t hurt you off the dribble, but he can do both.”
Muskegon’s win Saturday was the 400th career victory for Guy as a head coach – with 191 in nine years at Muskegon Heights and 209 wins in 11 years at Muskegon.
Guy, whose tenure at Muskegon is highlighted by a Class A title in 2014 and two Mr. Basketball winners in DeShaun Thrower (2014) and Deyonta Davis (2015), has another team with the makings of a championship run and another Mr. Basketball candidate in Briggs.
Muskegon features two floor general-type point guards in senior David Day III and junior M’Khi Guy, along with a loaded front court with seven players standing 6-4 or taller, led by starting juniors Terrance Davis (6-6) and Stanley Cunningham (6-5).
A pure shooter like Briggs – a three-year starter who has committed to Wayne State – is something that Guy hasn’t always had, and might be what makes the difference in March.
Briggs had his best game of the season back on Dec. 28 at the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Classic at Reeths-Puffer High School. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was there to get a close look at recruiting target Durral Brooks of Grand Rapids Catholic Central, but it was Briggs who stole the show.
Briggs scored a game-high 35 points, including the winning bucket in overtime in an 81-79 victory.
“I just happened to catch fire that night,” said Briggs, who is a 4.0-GPA student and a National Honor Society member. “That was a great win for us and we’re rolling to start the season, which is great. But we want to keep it going and play our best basketball in March, when it really counts.”
In the Big Reds’ first league game Friday night at cross-town rival Muskegon Reeths-Puffer, Briggs got in foul trouble and didn’t score in the first half. He made amends by scoring his team’s first 12 points of the second half (on four 3-pointers), as Muskegon pulled away for a 51-26 victory.
He followed that up with his 24-point performance against Ferndale and is now averaging 24 points, six rebounds and five assists per game.
Guy hopes that, led by Briggs, this year’s team is ready for a long run – literally.
Guy made all of his varsity players that were not on the football team run cross country this fall, and not just for conditioning reasons.
“It put them out of their comfort zones, which is a good thing,” explained Guy, who is also Muskegon’s athletic director. “Take Jordan, for example. Basketball is comfortable for him. I wanted to put him in situations that weren’t as comfortable for him so that he would learn how to adapt and handle being uncomfortable a little better.”
Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Muskegon’s Jordan Briggs (2) pulls up for a shot at the 3-point arc during his team’s win Saturday over Ferndale. (Middle) Briggs makes his move toward the basket. (Photos by Tim Reilly.)
We've got a long way to go before the stories of this season conclude with four MHSAA boys basketball champions crowned March 15 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center.
But the first week of the 2023-24 regular season gave us plenty to fill our first installment of “Breslin Bound” – our official tip-off to following more than 700 boys basketball teams through those final buzzers in East Lansing.
Week in Review
The countdown of last week’s five most intriguing results:
1. Flint Carman-Ainsworth 46, Flint Beecher 44 This was their first meeting since January 2022 and it provided a memorable start as the Cavaliers downed the reigning Division 3 champion.
2. Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 75, Ferndale 66 These two both have several new contributors, but big things will be expected again as well as Brother Rice regularly contends in Division 1 and Ferndale is the reigning Division 2 champion.
3. Lansing Waverly 58, Detroit Martin Luther King 57 Waverly took major strides last season doubling its win total from 2021-22 and could be on the verge of more coming off this impressive victory at the Detroit Douglass Tip-Off Classic.
4. Norway 49, Munising 48 After the Knights gave Munising a tough final regular-season test last season, the Mustangs went on to claim the Division 4 championship. Norway will attempt to build off back-to-back 15-7 seasons starting with this win.
5. Wyoming Tri-unity Christian 64, Grandville Calvin Christian 44 These two combined to finish 46-9 a season ago, when Calvin defeated Tri-unity 63-42 in the regular-season finale (although the Defenders rebounded to finish Division 4 runners-up).
With an eye toward March, here are two teams in each division making sparks:
Rochester Adams (2-0) The Highlanders provided one of the best late-breaking stories of last season, reaching the Division 1 Quarterfinals after finishing fourth of five teams in a strong Oakland Activities Association Red that also featured North Farmington and Ferndale. The momentum started rolling again with wins last week over Milford 52-48 and Macomb L’Anse Creuse North 74-59.
Utica (2-0) Last season’s co-champion in the Macomb Area Conference Blue defeated MAC White reigning champion Port Huron Northern 68-49 in their opener and then Utica Eisenhower 56-41 at the MAC Champions of Champions event at Center Line. Utica improved to 15-7 last season after finishing 7-14 in 2021-22.
Dundee (2-0) After holding its own last season in a strong Lenawee County Athletic Association and finishing 13-12 overall, Dundee is hoping to turn a fast start last week into a climb up the standings with league play starting Friday. The Vikings doubled up East Jackson 52-26 and downed Milan 67-37 to start things off.
Goodrich (1-0) A 22-5 finish last season included a shared championship in the Flint Metro League Stars and a run to the Division 2 Quarterfinals, where the Martians fell by only five to eventual champion Ferndale. The second-to-last of those five losses came to Flint Beecher, 70-55, but Goodrich avenged it Friday with a 58-55 win over the Bucs.
Hillsdale (2-0) The Hornets finished just 4-19 last season, their second sub-.500 in a row. But the turnaround may be starting. Hillsdale is halfway toward last year’s win total after defeating Union City 53-45 and Jonesville 50-40 – and after losing to Union City 52-36 and Jonesville 39-23 last season, with Jonesville going on to finish 19-6.
Royal Oak Shrine Catholic (2-0) This is another team well on its way to bettering last season’s success by Jan. 1. After going 3-19 last winter, Shrine defeated Bloomfield Hills Roeper 48-30 and Utica Ford 55-52 in overtime last week. Ford had defeated the Knights 63-50 last season, and the 55 points Shrine scored this time would have been their second-highest total of 2022-23.
Adrian Lenawee Christian (2-0) Lenawee Christian finished last season on an 11-5 run after a 2-7 start, and might be rolling that right into this season as well after opening with a 74-60 win over Blissfield and 73-58 overtime victory over Hanover-Horton. Blissfield was among teams to deal the Cougars a loss during last season’s tough early stretch. Lenawee Christian is playing in the Tri-County Conference this winter after playing previously as an independent.
Wakefield-Marenisco (2-0) The Cardinals were a solid 13-10 last season, with the final week including a third win over Bessemer as they faced off in a District Semifinal, followed by a third loss to Ironwood in the District championship game. This season’s first week saw the same schedule, but a better outcome – Wakefield-Marenisco edged Bessemer 60-57 and this time defeated Ironwood 48-30. Ironwood was first and W-M third last season in the Copper Mountain Conference Porcupine Mountain.
Be on the lookout for results of these games coming up:
Tuesday – River Rouge (1-0) at Ferndale (1-1) – As noted above, Ferndale was last season’s Division 2 champion, and defeated Rouge 72-60 in last winter’s meeting.
Friday – Kalamazoo Central (0-0) at Battle Creek Central (0-0) – These longtime rivals finished first and third, respectively, in the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East last season.
Saturday – Detroit Cass Tech (0-0) at Holt (1-0) – The Rams host the reigning Division 1 champion Technicians in the 4:30 p.m. game of the Moneyball Classic.
Saturday – Grand Rapids South Christian (0-0) vs. Rockford (1-0) at Calvin University – This will be the 10 a.m. opener of The Invite at Calvin University, with the reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors taking on a Rockford team coming off an 18-win season.
Saturday – Grand Rapids Catholic Central (0-0) vs. Grand Rapids Northview (1-0) at Calvin University – This will cap off The Invite tipping approximately 7:35 p.m. and pitting last season’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold co-champion and White outright champion, respectively.
MHSAA.com's weekly “Breslin Bound” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
PHOTOS (Top) A Westland John Glenn player gets to the basket during U-D Jesuit's season-opening 83-48 win over the Rockets. (Middle) Bath defenders surround a Charyl Stockwell player during the Sentinels' 63-55 victory. (Top photo by Olivia B. Photography; middle photo by Click. by Christine McCallister.)