Grand Haven pulls away from Muskegon for Class A girls basketball title

By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal

GRAND HAVEN – It’s never easy putting together an undefeated basketball season.

Just ask the Grand Haven Buccaneers, who answered a big challenge Friday night in a 52-33 Class A district championship win against Muskegon.

“We keep the big picture in the back of our minds and don’t let anything get to us,” said junior Taylor Craymer, who helped the Bucs improve to 23-0. “We never overlook anyone.”

Grand Haven relied on a fast start and an impressive finish to capture its fourth straight district title. The Bucs advance to Tuesday’s regional tournament at Traverse City West and face Gaylord, which topped West 31-26 in overtime for its district crown.

Senior Hannah Wilkerson sparked Grand Haven with a solid all-around game. She scored 18 points and contributed four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Craymer chipped in with 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

Grand Haven, the defending Class A state champion, led 15-4 after one quarter.

“They are a team we needed to jump on early,” Haven coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “You don’t want to let them hang around.”

Muskegon (15-8) overcame a rough start, but couldn’t overcome a rough shooting night. The Big Reds started the game 0-for-15 from the floor and converted just 18 percent of their shots for the game.

Senior Jade Paige and freshman Mardrieka Cook each scored 10 points for the Big Reds, with Keiarra Guy adding nine points.

Muskegon also had to deal with 6-foot-5 senior center Abby Cole, who only scored eight points but blocked 16 shots and grabbed 16 rebounds.

“She definitely is a game changer,” Muskegon coach Taushauna Burrel said about Cole. “She was a little bit of a factor tonight.

“We kind of struggled putting together four solid quarters tonight,” Burrel added. “It’s a lesson learned for a young team that has never been there before.”

Muskegon’s press bothered Grand Haven in the second quarter. The Big Reds relied on some Bucs’ turnovers and cut the lead to 19-15 at halftime.

Muskegon pulled within 19-18 on a Paige basket, but Wilkerson took over the game in the third quarter. She scored 10 of her 18 points in the third, including a three-point play and a 3-pointer.

“In the fourth quarter we really wanted this and it was our last home game,” Wilkerson said. “We knew it would be a battle.”

The Bucs led 33-26 after three quarters and outscored the Big Reds 19-7 in the final eight minutes.

Grand Haven also beat Muskegon 59-44 in their regular-season meeting in January.

“That’s a good team,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said about Muskegon. “That’s the best Muskegon team in a while. They played us tough the first time.”

 

GRA ND HAVEN 52, MUSKEGON 33

MUSKEGON (15-8)

Keiarra Guy 3 2-2 9, Raven Moore 1 1-2 3, Artmetria Williams 0 1-2 1, Mardrieka Cook 4 2-3 10, Janiece Levelston 0 0-4 0, Jade Paige 5 0-1 10. Totals 13 6-14 33.

GRAND HAVEN (23-0)

Courtney Springer 1 1-3 3, Grace Kendra 2 0-0 4, Angie Schultz 1 0-0 2, Mallory Beswick 0 2-2 2, Hannah Wilkerson 8 1-2 18, Bailey Tebeau 1 0-0 2, Abby Cole 4 0-0 8, Amy Kober 1 0-0 2, Krysteena Davis 0 0-2 0, Taylor Craymer 5 0-0 11. Totals 23 9-14 52.

Muskegon 4-11-11-7-33
G. Haven 15-4-14-19-52

3-pointers-Guy; Wilkerson, Craymer. Total fouls-Muskegon 15, Grand Haven 12. Fouled out-none.

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