30th meeting in Grand Haven-Spring Lake boys basketball rivalry, both teams still seeking first win of season

By John Jarvi
Local Sports Journal

GRAND HAVEN — For the first time in the series history, either the host Grand Haven’s Buccaneers or neighboring Spring Lake Lakers will walk away from Friday night’s boys basketball game happier than usual.

That’s because, going into the game, neither team has won a game this season.

Now, they do have the backyard “war” for each team. But both Grand Haven and Spring Lake are 0-3 on the season, so either team will be greatly relived to post that first victory.

If it turns out the victory is against their rival from the other side of the Grand River, that will be even better in the 30th meeting between the two teams.

Overall, the Buccaneers have controlled the rivalry most years although the Lakers scrapped their way to a 71-52 victory in the first meeting between the teams during the 1970-71 season. George Devries coached that first game for Spring Lake.

Butch Cantrall replaced Devries for the 1974-75 season and came away a 71-69 winner in overtime for Spring Lake.

For Grand Haven, Spring Lake has faced varsity teams coached by only three people. Al Schaffer coached the Buccaneers to a 13-3 record against the Lakers through the 1986-87 season and then retired to California.

Craig Taylor, a varsity coach at Fruitport earlier in his career, replaced Schaffer and tripped in the first meeting before running off seven victories in a row through the 1994-95 season.

The series took a 12-year hiatus when the schools could not agree on a date for the game. It had been played late in the season for a few years and then moved up to either just before or after Christmas depending on the calendar in a given year.

Since resuming during the 2007-08 season, it has stayed as a late December highlight on the schedules for the two teams.

Steve Hewitt replaced Taylor as the Grand Haven coach after the 2004-05 season and ran off five victories in a row until last season. Spring Lake turned back Grand Haven 50-42 at Spring Lake last December with Bill Core as the Laker coach.

On the Spring Lake side, the Laker coaches have been Devries, Cantrall, Larry Aldridge, Mike Secory, Cavin Mohrhardt, now the athletic director, and Core.

A Spring Lake victory this time would mark the first time the Lakers have won two games in a row in the series and chip away at the 25-5 lead Grand Haven has in the all-time series.

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