By Craig Beilfuss

Grand Haven couldn’t stop the 3-point shooting barrage by the visiting Rockford Rams in the first half on Tuesday evening and it spelled a 62-56 defeat.

Rockford connected on eight 3-point shots in the first half and ten overall for the game.

The Rams got out of the gate quickly and forced Grand Haven head coach Greg Immink to call two timeouts in the first three minutes of play.

Grand Haven held the lead once in the game at 2-0 before Rockford went on a 16-0 spurt and forced the Bucs to play catchup ball all night.

Rockford hit four 3-point shots in the first quarter and jumped out to a 18-5 lead.

“When you start in such a big hole, it’s tough, said Grand Haven head coach Greg Immink.

The Bus went on a 10-3 run to close out the first half. Grand Haven would manage a 16-14 scoring advantage in the second stanza and found themselves trailing 32-21 at the halftime break. The Rams connected on only five field goals in the second quarter, however, four more of those buckets were from 3-point land.

“They (Rockford) made us pay by going eight for 12 on 3-pointers in the first half. They deserve some credit for that, but at the same time, our level of play was not where it needed to be tonight,” Immink said. “They just played a lot faster than we did in the first half.”

Grand Haven found some energy at the halftime break and put the clamps down on the Rockford outside shooting in the third quarter. Six Grand Haven players would find the scoring column in the third quarter as the Bucs cut the Rams’ lead down to three at 39-36. Grand Haven would finish the quarter on a 10-2 run and hold a 15-7 scoring advantage in the quarter. It was the closest the Bucs would come to overtaking Rockford.

Rockford would knock down 11 free throws in the final minutes and 6’5” junior Caden Pokorzynki tossed in 10 points in the final eight minutes for the Rams.

Bashir Neely kept Grand Haven knocking on the door with 11 fourth quarter points, but the Rockford offense outscored Grand Haven 23-20 in the fourth quarter to secure the final margin of victory.

“I thought we made a valiant comeback in the second half. I think the lesson from today is that you have to show up with the intensity, the passion, the desire and the toughness right from the tip, especially when you play against a good team like Rockford,” said Immink.

“They were a lot faster, a lot tougher, more physical. In the second half, I thought we responded the way you’d expect us to and obviously, the game looked a lot better in the second half from our side.”

Senior Nic Stump had a team high 16 points for Grand Haven. He was followed by junior Harrison Sorrelle with 14 points and Neely finished with 12.

Grand Haven senior Nic Stump goes up for two of his team leading 16 points against Rockford on Tuesday evening. The Bucs lost to the Rams 62-56 (Photo/Leo Valdez)

Pokorzynski led the Rockford offense with 17 points. He was joined by Kyle Varady and Blake Murphy who each chipped in with 10 points respectively.

With the win, Rockford takes sole possession of the league lead sporting a perfect 4-0 record in the OK Conference-Red. The Rams are 9-1 overall

Grand Haven drops to 8-1 overall and 3-1 in the OK Conference-Red. The Buccaneers will be back in action on Friday when they host East Kentwood.

Check out photos from the action in Grand Haven shot bye Leo Valdez.