By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – The Spring Lake girls basketball team lost its first game of the season in its final game of the season.
The Lakers posted a perfect 20-0 regular season, then buzzed to a district championship with wins over Oakridge, Coopersville, and Orchard View last week.
But the amazing run screeched to a halt Tuesday when Spring Lake fell to Sparta 44-37 in the Class B regional semifinals at Orchard View High School.
The Lakers fought to the end, going on a 12-2 run near the end of the game to cut its deficit to 41-37 with 50 seconds remaining. But their fate was sealed when they missed their last four shots from the floor.
Spring Lake was hurt by cold starts in the third and fourth quarters. They failed to score in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the third quarter and the first three minutes of the fourth.
“We had a lot of cold spurts throughout the game,” said Spring Lake coach Rich Hyde, whose team finished the season with a 23-1 record. “It was a pretty tough roller-coaster ride. I would have liked to be more consistent offensively but you have to give Sparta credit.”
The Spartans advance to Thursday’s regional final with a 21-2 record.
Sparta led 14-11 after the first quarter, when Daneigh Wilde scored seven of her nine points.
The Spartans had a 9-8 edge in the second quarter and a 23-19 halftime lead. Sparta’s Francesca Buchanan scored seven of her team-high 15 points during the second quarter.
Sparta opened the second half with a 6-0 run and led 34-25 at the third buzzer. The Lakers missed their first six shots in the third quarter.
The Spartans took advantage of another Lakers drought at the beginning of the fourth quarter to grab a 39-25 lead.
The Lakers answered with a 12-2 run to cut the Sparta lead to 41-37 with 50 seconds left, but missed their final four shots of the game.
Reiko Johnson scored a game-high 18 points for Spring Lake while senior Kelsee Zuidema had a double-double (10 points and a team high 10 rebounds) in her final game at Spring Lake.