By Nate Thompson

GRAND HAVEN – When the Grand Haven-Spring Lake basketball rivalry was renewed nearly a decade ago, the Buccaneers tended to dominate, with several lopsided victories in their favor.

But Spring Lake has turned up the thrill meter in the Drawbridge Classic quite a few notches since then.

After Spring Lake fell by one point at home in overtime to Grand Haven last season, the two squads one-upped themselves on Friday at Grand Haven Fieldhouse, with the unbeaten Lakers pulling out a heart-stopping 69-66 triumph in double overtime.

Spring Lake, which just defeated Class A foe Rockford on Tuesday in overtime, improved to 3-0, while the Bucs fell to 1-1.

Griffen Lorimer goes up for the jump shot over Grand Haven’s Adam Strom. Photo/Tim Reilly

“I think it was the start of the second overtime, I’m feeling like a fan just like everyone else,” said Spring Lake coach Bill Core. “I could sit here for 10 overtimes, and I’d enjoy every second.”

Grand Haven led 19-12 after one quarter, 30-27 at halftime and 40-39 at the third break.

Spring Lake had a 56-52 advantage with 2:10 left in regulation, but the Bucs roared back with a three-pointer by Dimitrius Neely, and later tied the game 56-56 when Kellum Bridgeforth split a pair at the free throw line with 1:20 left.

The game was tied 59-59 after the first OT, leading to the final extra session, when the Lakers got the win.

It was the Lakers’ dominant senior post duo of 6-foot-6 Griffin Lorimer and 6-9 Sam Johnson that made sure the game didn’t go more than two extra sessions.

Lorimer had a monster game with 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Johnson scored six of his 12 points in the second overtime to help hold off another Bucs’ rally.

The pair were pivotal in helping Spring Lake dominate in two key areas. The Lakers held a 39-21 rebounding advantage and connected on 26-of-36 shots from the free throw line. The Bucs were just 7-of-10 from the charity stripe.

“In practice this week, we challenged our bigs,” Core said. “We knew that’s where our advantage had to be. And to dominate the boards like we did, and to dominate the attempts at the free throw line, those were huge for us.”

Dimitrius Neely lofts a layup over Spring Lake’s Sam Johnson. Photo/Tim Reilly

Lorimer the most consistent difference-maker throughout the game. He connected on a pair of 3-pointers, drew a key charge foul in the second overtime and also made two clutch free throws with five seconds remaining to give the Lakers their final 69-66 advantage.

With a chance to tie, Grand Haven’s Bryce Taylor’s straightaway three-pointer was wide right, and the mad scramble for the loose rebound resulted in a jump ball, with the possession arrow favoring the Lakers.

Spring Lake was able to throw deep and dribble out the clock on the run, setting off a celebration with the Laker student section rushing the court.

Lorimer said he always felt like the Lakers had the upper hand throughout the tight fourth quarter and two overtimes, even after his team coughed up a pair of slim leads with under four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“I was just happy to still be in it,” Lorimer said with a grin. “I was living in the moment. I was like, ‘Alright, you’re going to give us another chance, let’s do it.’ That’s how I approached it.

“It felt like every time we got a little bit ahead, they’d make some big threes to tie it. Ultimately, our free throw shooting helped us stay in it at the end.”

Casey Constant led Grand Haven with 16 points while Taylor and Bridgeforth scored 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Jack VanWingen totaled 13 points, nine rebounds and three steals for Spring Lake.

“Give credit to Spring Lake,” said Grand Haven Coach Greg Immink. “They made the winning plays when they needed to. Their rebounding hurt us and their free throw shooting; they made them all. Good teams do that.”