By Dave Hart

WHITEHALL – It’s better to win ugly than lose pretty.

Just ask the Hart girls basketball team, which gutted out a 30-23 victory over Whitehall on Thursday night in West Michigan Conference action.

While the win was not an offensive work of art, it did continue a great start for the Pirate girls, who are now 8-1 overall on the season and 4-1 in conference play.

“I was pretty happy with the defense tonight,” said Hart coach Travis Rosema. “I think we are where we are supposed to be record-wise as a team.”

Whitehall jumped out to a 10-7 lead after the first quarter, but the Pirates played strong during the second quarter, scoring the last nine points of the first half to take a 16-12 halftime lead.

Jayd Hovey scored four of the nine points for Hart during the late run.

Hart increased its advantage to 25-17 heading into the fourth quarter after going on a 9-5 third quarter run.

The Vikings responded, scoring the first six points of the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 25-23 with 4:07 remaining in the contest.

The Pirates pulled it together and scored the final five points of the game on three free-throws by Xasha Gonzalez and two from Hovey.

“I thought we were making bad passes and not rebounding well,” Rosema said. “I told them to settle down and to make good passes and play like you’re in the lead.”

The Pirates were led by Hovey with a game-high 15 points, while Gonzalez, Paige Eisenlohr and Aspen Boutell each had three points apiece.

The Vikings were paced by Camryn Evans with six points, while Karina Wade added five and Rileigh Thommen had four.

“That was really rough,” said Whitehall coach Derek Westerlund. “I thought we had better shots during the second half, but we missed the shots and continued to turn the ball over. You can’t win a varsity basketball game by only scoring 23 points.”

Whitehall is now 3-6 on the season and 2-3 in conference play.