By Mitchell Boatman
The Buccaneers found a way to right the ship, topping Jenison, which came in riding a six-game win streak, 49-43 in a non-conference matchup on Friday night.
Grand Haven is now 7-5 on the season, included 2-3 in O-K Red play. Jenison drops to 8-5, but is 6-0 in the O-K Black.
“We needed that more than anything,” head coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer. “We were struggling with confidence coming in. It’s one game, but sometimes you’re at a point in your season when you need a win more than anything.”
Senior Jolee Houle said the team knew they could turn things around.
“We knew nothing was broken,” she said. “It’s big for us after a couple big losses and a couple close (wins) that should have been a bigger margin. It’s definitely big for the rest of the season.”
Kowalczyk-Fulmer added that it’s a win that bodes well for the Bucs looking forward.
“That’s a good team we just beat,” she said. “I hope we can build on that and continue to win the games we should win.
“(Jenison) beat Muskegon, they beat (Reeths-Puffer) by 13, they beat Mona (Shores) by 30. Those are all teams in our district. That gives us confidence, if we can beat Jenison we can play with anybody.”
The Bucs used a size advantage with 6-2 Zoe Spoelman and 6-1 Molly Long to gain an advantage offensively.
“The both did great,” Houle said. “Zoe’s hard to stop with the left hand at the rim, Molly hit her first couple from about 15 feet. That’s tough to stop when you’ve got the high-low game working.”
Grand Haven got off to a strong start, using an 11-1 run to take an 11-3 lead in the first quarter. The Bucs led 13-5 after the first eight minutes.
The Wildcats used a trio of three-pointers to get back into the game, drawing within 22-20 with 1:40 to play in the first half. Grand Haven led 26-22 at the half.
Jenison was able to tie the game 27-27 in the early minutes of the third quarter, but the Grand Haven defense tightened up for the remainder of the quarter. The Bucs ended the third on a 10-4 run to lead 37-31 heading to the fourth.
The Wildcats drew within a point at 39-38 with 4:22 to play, but the Bucs went on another run — this time an 8-2 spurt — to push the lead to 47-40 with 29.7 to play. Jenison hit a three with 20 seconds left to move within 47-43, but two free throws from Zoe Spoelman with 14 seconds left closed the game out.
Houle scored 15 points and dished out four assists for Grand Haven. Long netted 15, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots, while Spoelman had 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.