By Dave Tomczak

SPRING LAKE – On a Friday night in front of its home crowd, with a chance to claim a second consecutive Class B district title, the Spring Lake boys basketball team did not disappoint.

Big runs on offense in the first half, combined with a smothering defense in the second half, helped the Lakers defeat Oakridge 59-40 and claim their fifth district title in six years.

“Each (district championship) is different for different reasons,” said Lakers coach Bill Core. “But this one, in front of the home crowd, in front of the student section, in front of our community, makes it even more special.”

Spring Lake, which improved to 18-4 on the season, advances to face Grand Rapids Catholic Central in regionals next Monday at Grand Rapids West Catholic.

Spring Lake’s Jack VanWingen battles defensive pressure from Coco Watson. Photo/Jason Goorman

The Lakers will be looking to an upset after losing twice to GRCC earlier this season.

Both offenses played well in the opening frame, but it was the Lakers who led 21-15 after one.

Trailing 5-2, Spring Lake went on a 15-2 run to take a lead it would not relinquish.

The teams exchanged baskets for much of the second quarter, but the Eagles couldn’t cut into the Lakers’ lead.

Oakridge didn’t have an answer for Spring Lake’s big men, Sam Johnson and Griffin Lorimer. The two combined for 24 first-half points, helping the Lakers take a 36-29 lead into halftime.

The Lakers increased the lead to 42-29 by scoring the first six points of the second half, and holding the Eagles scoreless for more than half of the third quarter.

Spring Lake led 44-34 headed into the fourth.

“They’re a good team and they played solid defense,” Oakridge coach Tracy Ruel said. “We had six or seven layups that we missed in the third, and in a game like this you just can’t miss those.”

No. 54 Griffin Lorimer gets the shot over Oakridge’s Coleman Wall. Photo/Jason Goorman

After nailing five 3-pointers in the first half, the Eagles managed only one more the rest of the way. That came from TJ Ruel, who scored 10 points in the first half, but only had that triple in the final two quarters.

Lorimer was tasked with slowing Ruel down, and did a good job.

“I was on TJ most of the night,” said Lorimer, who led all scorers with 20 points. “He’s an awesome shooter, but the key was limiting his number of shots.”

Spring Lake outscored Oakridge 15-6 in the final frame. The Lakers used their deep bench and constant substitutions to wear down the Eagles throughout the game.

“With our subs we really don’t lose anything defensively,” Core said. “Maybe a little on offense, but not defensively. And our defense and rebounding has become a staple of our program for the last couple of years.”

Laker captains Lorimer, Johnson and Jack VanWingen finished the game with a combined 50 points.

Johnson netted 16 with nine rebounds, while VanWingen had 14 points and six rebounds.

Oakridge, which finished the season at 10-12, was led by Ruel with 13 points and Tanner Karel with 10.