By John Jarvi
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – The Grand Haven Buccaneers posted a much-needed girls’ basketball victory on Tuesday night and got it with a 60-49 victory over the host Muskegon Big Reds
The girls game was played at Redmond-Potter Gymasium.
Grand Haven entered the game with a four-game losing streak, but came away with its second victory of the season by scoring a season-high 60 points.
The Lady Bucs used a 2-3 zone defense to offset the Lady Big Reds’ edge in speed and quickness.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a team we’re going to see again in the Class A District tournament,” said Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer, the Grand Haven coach. “We moved the ball, too. We’ve been struggling to get a lot of balance in our offense.”
Muskegon grabbed a 2-0 lead at the start and the Lady Big Reds went up 23-20 late in the second quarter only to trail 27-23 at halftime.
Grand Haven ran off spurts of four points and then nine points in taking control in the third quarter. Muskegon (2-4 overall), threatened late in the game only to be turned aside when Grand Haven sank five of its last six free throws in the final minute.
Mardrekia Cook led Muskegon with 22 points.
Inside, Hannah Rinkevicz grabbed 15 rebounds for Grand Haven and helped neutralize Cook at times.
“Mardrekia really wasn’t scoring out of their offense and we rebounded really well out of the zone,” said Kowalczyk-Fulmer. “We also hit enough free throws at the end.”
Guard Amanda Merz had a team-high 19 points and added seven assists and four rebounds for Grand Haven. Merz got into foul trouble and fouled out with 2:32 left, but the Lady Bucs survived the loss of their floor general.
The offensive balance showed up for Grand Haven as Lynn Olthof had a career-high 14 points and Lauren Strong added 10 points. Olthof also had four assists and four rebounds for the Lady Bucs.
For Muskegon, Tierra Williams backed up Cook with 12 points.
Grand Haven, now 2-5 overall, will return to action Friday by playing its O-K Conference Red Division opener at Rockford at 7:30 p.m.
Muskegon, meanwhile, will play an O-K Conference Black Division game at Mona Shores at 7:30 p.m.