By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal
FRUITPORT – Heading into Friday night’s Lakes 8 match up with host Fruitport, Spring Lake boys basketball head coach admitted he’d had some doubts whether or not his Lakers team could keep a lid on the Trojans’ offense.
See, Coach caught the Trojans take back-to-back games – first, a 44-38 victory over Orchard View Jan. 11, and then Fruitport’s 60-54 win over Montague Tuesday night – so he twice got to see Fruitport at its very best.
Friday night, he saw the Trojans at their very worst.
A string of 11 straight misses to start the game, part of a 2-for-26 stretch from the field for Fruitport, as the Lakers pounced for the first three quarters to ultimately double up the Trojans 64-32.
“I was really kind of scared of the match up,” said Spring Lake head coach Bill Core. “These teams are closer than the score indicated.”
In fact, Fruitport, despite getting just one point – a bank-shot free throw – across the first eight minutes, was only down 9-1.
The streak was finally broken by senior guard Shawn Knox at the 5:57 mark of the second, but it would be just one of two makes in the half.
The Lakers’ defense was stifling.
“The key was that first quarter defensively, getting off to the good start,” said Core.”I really think it took the wind out of (Fruitport’s) sails, out of the student section and out of the atmosphere. It was important to keep their crowd out of it and maybe place a little doubt in their minds, early.”
“We couldn’t get off a decent shot in the first quarter, obviously,” said Fruitport head coach Adam Anspach. “No doubt about it, that’s not the way you want to start the game against a rival. Especially against a well-coached team like Spring Lake.”
The Lakers lead 25-5 at the break, and put the game away with 29-point third quarter.
Anspach said perhaps the game was lost the moment his squad hit the floor.
“It just seemed like the moment was too big for them,” he said, “right from the start.”
For Core, the Lakers’ 0-4 start is a thing of the past.
“That Grand Haven game, we got lit up there,” he said of Spring Lake’s 53-31 loss to the Bucs Dec. 27. “We learned some things, and went back to the drawing board, we said ‘We have to play better.’ And we have; we’re undefeated in 2014, 4-0.”
Core credits the whole team, and marks the return of forward Charlie Warber as the point the team’s fortunes. A disappointing 0-4 start evaporated with a 4-0 start to the Lakers’ Lakes 8 campaign.
It wasn’t all perfect, though. A 16-of-32 finish from the free throw line means there’s going to be some focus there in Spring Lake’s near feature.
“We’ll deal with that in practice,” Core said with a smirk.
Still, what can you say to a team that just out rebounded the opponent 37-16?
A huge game at Fremont is set for Tuesday, and after visiting Western Michigan Christian next Saturday, the schedule suddenly tilts in the Lakers’ favors.
Because of anomalies in the schedule (both last season and this season) and the poor weather this winter, after the WMC game, the Lakers will have played 23 of their last 24 games on the road.
“It’s going to be nice to get some home cooking,” said Core.
Senior center Nick Goeglein led the Lakers with 15 points and six blocks, while Kyle Zietlow had 14 points and Nathan Batts finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Keegan George had five points, eight assists and five steals in the victory.
Leon Johnson led Fruitport with seven points, and Travis Grimm added six points and six rebounds for the Trojans.