The end result was a 72-61 win for the Buccaneers, but the score is a little misleading.
After holding a 23-21 lead after the first quarter, the Buccaneer defense clamped down the Bulldogs and Grand Haven held a 20-point advantage for most of the second and third quarter, only to hold off a late rally in the final quarter of play when substitution patterns were a little unorthodox.
“We shot the ball really well,” said Grand Haven head coach Greg Immink. “Our defense didn’t really catch up to our offense until the second quarter, though. That’s when the game changed. I was really proud of how we played defense in that second quarter.
“We held them to five points in that quarter. It was really just a matter of us being a step quicker on the perimeter and being more aware of what our assignments were. We let a couple of their guys get some pretty clean looks in that first quarter, but we closed out better after that.”
Sophomore point guard Casey Constant scored 18 points to lead the Bucs (15-4, 9-3 O-K Red), while senior center Ross Koella added 13 points and senior guard Clay Landsman added 12.
“Casey had a great game tonight,” Immink added. “He’s gaining more and more confidence with each game, and he’s just so much more comfortable running the offense than he was early on in the season.”
The 9-3 finished wasn’t enough to earn a share of the conference this season, but Immink believes the battle-tested Bucs will be better for it when the playoff begin.
“It’s a really good accomplishment for this team,” he added. “West Ottawa went undefeated in the conference, and that’s that something that doesn’t happen very often, so they deserved it. I’m so proud of our guys for getting through the conference slate with only three losses, two to the conference champion, that’s a great season.
“You think about how many great teams Grand Haven has had, and the numbers we’ve put up this year stack up with some of the better teams in this program’s history. So, I’m proud of what this group has been able to accomplish so far, and we’re hoping to continue to play a lot more basketball in March.”
Grand Haven hosts Forest Hills Central (12-6) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. for their own version of Senior Night.
“They’re very good,” Immink said of the Rangers. “They’ve lost twice to Grand Rapids Christian, so they’ve been tested. They are a very solid club, very well coached, and they’ve had a very good program and a winning culture over there. So, they’re going to be very fundamental, very disciplined, and we’re going to have to play a good game in order to beat them.”