By Ron Rop

GRAND HAVEN — Grand Haven boys basketball coach Greg Immink has been impressed with the way his team has been playing in the early part of the season.

Fast starts, hot shooting and lock-down defense have been the norm for the undefeated Bucs.

That scenario held for a half on Thursday in the nightcap of the Lake Michigan Cup basketball tournament. But the second half was a different story and Grand Haven had to hang on for a 65-56 victory over the Petoskey Northmen.

Grand Haven built a 37-21 halftime lead in the strength of a 13-0 run in the opening quarter and an 11-0 run in the second to take the double-digit lead into the half.

“I really liked the way we started the game,” Immink said. “That’s how we’ve played for most of the year. The ball was moving, we had a lot of energy and the guys were competing on defense. It was a real nice first half for us.”

Both teams came out in the third quarter a bit sluggish. Turnovers and missed shots led to an 11-9 scoring advantage for the Bucs and a 48-29 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“Our big thing going into halftime was let’s forget the score,” Petoskey coach Matt Tamm. “Let’s just come out and play good basketball in the second half.”

Things got a bit wild in the final quarter as the Northmen started chipping away at the 19-point deficit. By the 4-minute mark, the lead was trimmed to 54-45 thanks to a three-point play by Petoskey’s James Marshall. When Northman Jackson Jonker hit three free throws with 22 seconds left, the lead was down to six at 60-54.

“That’s a proud team, a proud program,” Immink said of the Northmen. “They’ve beaten some good teams. They are going to make you earn it for the full 32 minutes. That’s what good programs do.”

Harrison Sorrelle made 3-of-4 free throws and scored on an offensive rebound to provide the Bucs with the final margin of victory. Sorrelle finished with 14 points, eight of which came in the final quarter. 

Sophomore Will Korenstra led the Bucs (4-0) with 15 points. It was his spark in the opening half that pushed the Bucs to the double-digit lead. Korenstra had 11 first-half points.

“It’s a team game and obviously, Harrison has scored for us quite regularly to start the season and other guys have to be able to do that as well,” Immink said. “Will, I thought, stepped up tonight and did a nice job, especially offensive rebounding. It was a good night for Will. He just keeps getting better and better.”

On Friday, four more games are on tap at Grand Haven. Petoskey takes on Muskegon Heights at 1 p.m., followed by Traverse City West and Holland West Ottawa at 2:30 p.m., Spring Lake vs. Ludington at 4 p.m. and Grand Haven against Traverse City St. Francis at 5:30 p.m.

Traverse City St. Francis 53, Holland West Ottawa 50 (OT)

The game was a 36-minute battle as neither team could gain any kind of momentum and build a lead.

In the end, the Gladiators came away with the narrow victory on the strength of 25 points from Wyatt Nausadia and 14 from Joey Donahue.

West Ottawa was led by John Beetham with 17 points and Nash Bosma with 15.