By Mitch Ashcraft

GRAND HAVEN – The Grand Haven boys basketball team doesn’t have a lot of happy memories of playing Muskegon.

The Bucs have been eliminated from postseason play by the Big Reds for five straight years, so they were obviously eager to settle a few scores on Tuesday.

And they did just that, holding Muskegon to 33 percent shooting and knocking down big shots when they needed them, en route to a big 59-51 non-league win on their home court.

“Muskegon is tough every year,” said third-year Grand Haven head coach Greg Immink. “Coach (Keith) Guy does an amazing job and they have the athletes, they are a tough task for anybody. Tonight our guys competed so hard, and I am really proud of the way they moved the ball and pounded the glass.”

Grand Haven’s Malic Love drives past No. 14 Edriese Jenkins Jr. Photo/Leo Valdez

Grand Haven successfully rebounded from Friday’s heartbreaking 69-66 double-overtime loss to rival Spring Lake.

Immink said he and his coaching staff picked out a few things from that game that the team needed to work on, and the adjustments paid off.

“I thought there was a significant difference from Friday’s game to today,” said Immink, whose team improved to 2-1. “If we didn’t make those slight adjustments we would not have had the performance we had tonight. Credit to our guys for buying in.”

The Buccaneer defense was lockdown to start the game, preventing Muskegon from scoring a field goal for nearly seven minutes.

Junior Bryce Taylor and senior Malic Love each had five points in the first quarter to lead Grand Haven to a 14-6 lead at the first buzzer.

Muskegon cut the deficit to 16-13 with 4:05 left in the second quarter, but then the Bucs knocked down three 3-pointers in a 50-second span to increase their lead to 11 points.

Sophomore Drew Sinke, who finished the night with 11 points, drilled a pair of three’s on back-to-back possessions, then Taylor drained his second triple of the game.

Clinton Jefferson Jr. glides in for the layup past Grand Haven’s Bryce Taylor. Photo/Leo Valdez

Grand Haven had a 28-20 lead at halftime.

The second half began with no scoring from either team for the first four minutes.

Love hit a three-pointer for Grand Haven to break the scoring drought, but then it was all Muskegon for the rest of the third quarter.

Ali’vonta Wallace converted a three-point play, then the Big Reds got consecutive baskets by Willie Shanks and Eonte Tornes, to cut the Grand Haven lead to 33-28.

Tornes added a triple at the buzzer for the Big Reds, leaving Grand Haven clinging to a 36-33 lead at the third break.

Grand Haven needed a spark in the fourth quarter to hold off the Big Reds, and it came from Casey Constant and sophomore Adam Strom. They both converted layups, drew fouls and sank their free throws, increasing the Bucs’ lead to nine points early in the fourth.

After a couple of Muskegon baskets, Taylor and sophomore Owen Ross knocked down threes on back-to-back possessions to put the Bucs up 12 points and finish off the Big Reds.

Love had a team-high 13 points for Grand Haven, while Constant added 10 points.

Tornes led the Big Reds with 17 points and Shanks added 13.

Muskegon, which made only 10 of 24 free throws, dropped to 1-1 on the season.