By Lucas Rains
Local Sports Journal

SPRING LAKE – Spring Lake boys basketball coach Bill Core often quizzes his team. “What’s our No. 1 offense?”

The team responds with, “Transition.”

Luttrul goes to the hoop as Whittake goes for the block. Photo/Sherry Wahr

Oakridge’s Brady Luttrull goes to the hoop as Craig Whittaker goes for the block. Photo/Sherry Wahr

That’s exactly how the Lakers cruised to a 59-41 win over Oakridge on Tuesday night. Spring Lake improves to 4-2 on the season and the state-ranked Eagles dropped their first game of the year and fell to 6-1.

“We wanted to make a statement game tonight,” Core said. “Oakridge came in 6-0 and an honorable mention in the Associated Press poll. It was a good game for us, especially defensively.”

The Lakers had the game in hand from start to finish.

Both offenses started slowly, but Spring Lake owned an 11-1 advantage after the first quarter. Oakridge broke into the scoring column 5 minutes into the game, as Spring Lake’s defense forced the Eagles to cough up turnover after turnover.

“Our defense set the tone early for us, as they only had the one point in the first quarter,” Core said. “We talk a lot about transition offense and you have to get a stop on defense to get out in transition. Because of our size and our quickness, we try to play good defense and score points in the transition offense.

The second quarter was more of the same as Spring Lake outscored Oakridge 18-10. The Lakers pulled away as they finished the half on a 13-0 run to lead 29-11 at the break. Spring Lake’s Kyle Zietlow  turned it on in the second quarter with nine of his 18 points during that stretch.

Spring Lake #12 Mark Williamson hits the fade away jumper against Oakridge #11 Nate Whar photo/Tim Reilly

Spring Lake #12 Mark Williamson hits the fade away jumper against Oakridge #11 Nate Wahr photo/Tim Reilly

“(Zietlow) is our leading scorer, he scores about 10 a game for us, but we are pretty balanced,” Core said. “I challenged Kyle a little bit to get to the free- throw line more because he’s our best free throw shooter. He got there six times tonight, which was nice to see.”

The Eagles started to finally make some shots from the outside in the second half, as Brock Luttrull nailed a pair of triples in the third. However, Spring Lake led 39-20 heading into the fourth quarter.

Oakridge found its groove in the fourth, after three quarters of turnover-prone, lethargic play. Brady Luttrull hit two 3s in the quarter and finished with a team-best nine points.

Spring Lake finished with 20 fourth-quarter points, half from the charity stripe. The Lakers got to the line much more frequently than the Eagles and they took advantage. Oakridge finished 2-8 from the line, whereas Spring Lake hit 21 of its 28 foul shots.

Nathan Batts, Joe Czajka and Keegan George all finished with nine points for the Lakers. Cameron Ball and Mark Williamson chipped in with six points each.

For Oakridge, James Cooper III scored eight points, Brock Luttrull scored six and Nate Wahr finished with five.