By Dave Hart
HAMILTON – The Spring Lake Lakers had no reason to believe they could pull off an upset in Wednesday night’s Class B regional finals.
Holland Christian has four players who stand at least 6-6, while the Lakers are fortunate to have one player to match that size.
And it didn’t start well for the Lakers. They fell behind by 10 points midway through the first quarter, but fought their way back and found a way to win.
Mark Williamson’s layup with 2:56 left gave the Lakers the edge they needed to claim a 49-46 victory and their first regional championship.
Spring Lake will play Wyoming Godwin Heights on Tuesday night in the Class B quarterfinals at Rockford High School.
“It’s a good feeling,” said Williamson, who did not immediately realize after the game that his layup was the winner. “It was a team effort all the way around, everyone had the game of their life.”
Spring Lake played an all-around clean game, committing only five turnovers, with just one on the first half.
Nathan Batts, Spring Lake’s point guard, had seven assists with no turnovers.
The Maroons started the game on a 15-5 run over the first five minutes, forcing the Lakers to take an early time out.
The Lakers responded with 22-9 burst to close the first half, outscoring the Maroons 15-7 during the second quarter after trailing 17-12 after the first quarter.
Keegan George scored 16 of his game-high 19 points in the first half to help the Lakers to a 27-24 halftime lead.
“It is an honor to play for a regional championship,” said George. “During the first quarter time out coach told us we had to keep attacking and play better defense.”
The third quarter was evenly matched with both teams scoring 13 points.
Kyle Zietlow scored five of his 13 points in the third quarter while Williamson scored his first six points of the game.
Holland Christian’s Tyler Hyma’s bucket tied the game at 43-43 with 4:29 left in regulation.
Zeitlow answered for the Lakers with a 3-pointer that put Spring Lake up 46-43 with 4:05 to play.
Holland Christian caught up again with a basket by Alex Bosch with 3:23 left, then Williamson hit his decisive layup with 2:56 on the clock.
The two teams were scoreless the rest of the way. Spring Lake held the Maroons to 0-for-5 shooting in the last three minutes. Holland Christian was also 0-for-2 from the free throw line.
But the Lakers struggled to take advantage, going 1-for-4 from the free throw line down the stretch.
Holland Christian had two chances to win the game, but missed a 3-point shot with two seconds left and a half-court shot as time expired.
“I really think our boys played really well from start to finish,” said Spring Lake coach Bill Core. “We contained their big guys and boxed out and rebounded.”