Preventing violence through unity and basketball

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MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. -- On Wednesday, two communities joined together as they worked to overcome recent acts of violence, finding unity and strength with a game of basketball.

Muskegon Heights hosted Kalamazoo Lakeside just weeks after a shooting on school property put four people in the hospital. That shooting took place in the parking lot of Muskegon Heights High School after a varsity basketball game.

Both communities have been hurt by gun violence in recent weeks, now they're determined to go forward in a safer direction.

Alena Zachary-Ross is the Superintendent of Muskegon Heights Public Schools and said Wednesday's match up is more than just a game.

"It's about the entire Muskegon community coming together, said Zachary-Ross, "It's about showing that as a community, we can do something about this violence.We can change things around."

Concerns about violence forced Muskegon Heights to change their athletic schedule at least five times since September, 2015. Most recently, Shelby High School canceled their game against Muskegon Heights, worried for their players' safety. Kalamazoo Lakeside stepped up to fill the void and that's when it became much more than just a game of basketball.

Desmonicka Brown, a senior at Muskegon Heights, attended Wednesday's game and spoke of the impact the shooting had on her and the other students.

"That was a real trying time for us," said Brown, "We didn’t expect that ya know? Everything going on with the shooting, we really are moving past that and I feel like we're moving forward on the up and up."

It was a standing room only as the crowed cheered on the senior players during their final basketball game.

FOX 17 also spoke to Muskegon County Prosecutor, D.J. Hilson on the strength of the community.

"I think it just shows how strong Muskegon County really is," said Hilson. These kids did nothing wrong. They didn’t deserve what had happened to them and they deserve this. They deserve a packed gym and they deserve to play basketball. and these kids deserve it. it was worth fighting for."

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