By Jim Goorman
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Barn burner, nail biter, down to the wire.
All of those tired cliches could have been pulled out of mothballs and applied to Grand Haven’s thrilling double overtime 50-49 victory over Mona Shores Friday in non-league boys basketball action.
There were multiple heroes for the night but none was bigger than the Bucs’ Noah Lein. The 6-4 point guard scored 25 of his team’s 50 points, including a huge free throw with 1.6 seconds left in the second overtime, to seal the victory.
His second free throw was purposely missed. The Sailors got the rebound and called a time out with one second left to set up a final play. It turned out to be an 86 foot skyscraper pass from Logan Smith to Kolby Burse, who’s off-balance eight-footer hit the backboard and rim at the buzzer, finally ending the marathon game.
Points came hard for both teams, who struggled to a 10-10 tie after one period and were only separated by one point at halftime.
“We were not sharp offensively and we missed many opportunities early in the game that we should have taken advantage of,” said Sailor Coach Gene Gifford. “As the game went along our inside outside game got better.”
The Sailors opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run, giving them their biggest advantage of the night. Logan Haugh sparked this quick display of offense with two baskets. But the Bucs stayed within striking distance. Lein had a three-pointer and hit two free throws after the third quarter buzzer due to a technical foul on the Sailor bench, cutting the margin to 34-30. Mona Shores had a huge 10-2 rebounding advantage in the quarter, keeping many of Grand Haven’s possessions to only one shot.
The fourth quarter was a see saw, pass oriented stanza as Shores slowly relinquished the lead it held since late in the second quarter. Grand Haven finally grabbed a 41-39 lead on another of Lein’s hard drives to the basket with only eight seconds left.
IShores was not to be undone as Gifford called time out to set up a final play. Marcus Tumblin took the ball at half court and dribbled around the right side through a mass of defenders for a buzzer tying lay up and a 41-41 deadlock.
It looked as though the Bucs were going to dominate in the first overtime as Lein began with a driving lay up and then Connor Grimes added two free throws. But Mona Shores’ Logan Smith fought for an offensive rebound and got a putback with 1:31 left to pull Shores within two points. Moments later he hit two free throws to tie the game at 47 and send it into the final overtime.
Mona Shores lost Tumlin to fouls early in the second overtime.
Lein scored all three points in the period, including his game winning free throw, in the final four minutes.
After the game a smiling Grand Haven coach Steve Hewitt had many compliments for Noah Lein.
“We expect a lot from him and he has grown as a point guard and become a good ball handler,” said Hewitt, whose team is now 2-3 and has a two-game winning sreak. “As a team, we were impatient in the early going but in the end we showed that we needed each other (by playing team ball).”
They move to 2-3 and now a two game winning streak. For Gifford this was a game that he was looking forward to playing. “We needed to have a close game like this. Grand Haven is a great program and we knew it would be a hard fought game. I was proud of the kids”, as they now move to 4-1 on the season.
Mona Shores (4-1) led 23-16 in rebounding. Tumblin finished with 13 points while Logan Haugh added 10 and Smith had nine for the Sailors.Grimes chipped in with 9 points for Grand Haven.