By John Jarvi
GRAND HAVEN – The host Grand Haven Buccaneers attacked from the start and advanced into the semifinal round of the Class A girls district basketball tournament Monday with a 52-29 victory over Fruitport.
The victory means Grand Haven will play host Mona Shores in Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. game. Mona Shores advanced by turning back Reeths-Puffer 50-46.
Grand Haven took control of the game early by scoring the first 10 points of the contest.
Guards Sophia Newhouse and Amanda Merz set the tone for the Bucs by pressuring the Fruitport ball-handlers near mid-court. Their play led to the early scoring spurt and left the Trojans struggling to find an answer on offense.
Merz and Newhouse each finished with seven steals. The Bucs had 20 in the game.
Merz also led all scorers with 24 points.
“Between Merz and Newhouse, the Trojans couldn’t get the ball past mid-court,” said Grand Haven Coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer.”They each had seven steals. That was pretty cool.
“Merz is a workhorse out there. Nobody ever outworks her on either end of the floor. We can play with any of these teams in the tournament, but if we don’t rebound and defend well, we’ll struggle.”
After Merz, Grand Haven spread its offensive success around. Newhouse and substitute Lynn Oltholf each had six points while Newhouse had four assists and Merz three. Olthof also had five rebounds and Merz chipped in with four.
Very little went right for Fruitport, which ended the season 10-10. Alyssa Veihl paced the Trojans with 12 points and Iyana Brown added eight.
Grand Haven, the Class A state champion in 2012 and 2013, will take a 7-14 record into Wednesday’s game. The Buccaneers lost six of their last seven games before beating Fruitport.
“We lost to Reeths-Puffer in the last seven seconds and to Mona Shores by five points on Dec. 12,” said Kowalczyk-Fulmer. “We played well tonight, but we’ll have to play better to win a district championship.”