By John Jarvi
SPRING LAKE – The unbeaten Shelby Tigers know how to keep a lead. Score in bunches and keep scoring.
Shelby did exactly that Wednesday night, rolling to a 67-45 non-league victory over the host Spring Lake Lakers.
Even a one-day delay in the game, caused by weather, couldn’t help Spring Lake.
The Tigers, now 17-0, trailed just once, 2-0, then kept building leads.
Shelby ran up a 9-2 lead after the opening basket and cruised to a 23-12 edge after one quarter. Lane Stotler tossed in all 10 of his points in the opening quarter.
“That 23-12 first quarter was huge,” said Spring Lake coach Bill Core. “It seemed like every time we had a chance, we’d miss an open look, and they’d go on a 6-0 break.
“They were by far the best team we’ve played on our schedule. They know how to win.”
The Lakers, now 12-5, missed eight free throws in the first half and Tigers pulled away to a 38-23 halftime lead. Shelby showed team balance in the opening half when they hit five of their seven 3-point field goal tries.
A long three-point bank shot by Caleb Anderson at the buzzer put an exclamation point on the first half for Shelby.
The Tigers increased their lead in the second half, finally winning by 22 points.
“We’re coming on,” said Shelby coach Rick Zoulek. “It was one of the better team efforts we’ve had against a good team. The Lakers play a physical game.”
Jeff Beckman was a powerful inside presence for Shelby, scoring a team-high 20 points, including a dunk off a missed shot in the third quarter.
Shelby had a 29-18 rebounding edge, with Beckman grabbing 16 boards and Michael James adding 10. Caleb Anderson had seven of Shelby’s 22 assists.
“The post play (with Beckman) was really active,” Core said. “It wasn’t a conference game, and we won’t see them in the district tournament. Obviously they’re a good team, and they played a great game tonight. Shelby shot the lights out. They were well-balanced.”
Spring Lake had scoring balance with Kyle Zietlow netting 15 points, Keegan George 11 and Nathan Batts 10.
Shelby has two tough upcoming games, including a matchup with Muskegon Heights on March 3.
“It will be a good test for us,” Zoulek said. “We’re going to get tested here before the district tournament starts, that’s for sure.”