The Grand Haven boys basketball team didn’t get those bounces on Friday against the undefeated and No. 3-ranked Muskegon, as they fell to the Big Reds 70-43, in the Class A district finals at Muskegon High School.
Despite the score, the Buccaneers were up to the task early on in the game. They trailed 17-12 after the first quarter and 31-24 at the half.
“I thought we were in it in the first half,” said second-year Grand Haven head coach Greg Immink. “We battled tough, and I thought our kids played hard the whole game. I wouldn’t expect anything less from them. They’ve played hard all year, in every game.
“Muskegon is a very good team, and there’s no secret to that. We certainly didn’t catch them on an off night. They were firing pretty well on all cylinders. Sometimes you just run into a buzz saw, and that’s kind of what happened to us, tonight.”
In the second half, host Muskegon got hot from distance, helping the Big Reds to outscore the Bucs 39-19 in the second half.
The Big Reds push their win streak over Grand Haven to 10 games, including five straight playoff wins. They will advance to play top-ranked Grand Rapids Christian (23-0) in the Class A regional semifinals on Monday at Grand Haven High School.
“They certainty made a lot of jumpshots,” Immink added. “They hit two in a row at one point in that third quarter, and then the floodgates kind of opened up on us. When they are able to do that, they are a difficult team to keep up with.
“They just got a rhythm going, and we didn’t get out quite far enough to contest, and they made us pay for it. Their defensive pressure was the biggest difference maker, in my opinion. They played excellent defense in that second half, and it was difficult for us to score, difficult for us to get good looks at the basket.”
Senior forward Drew Van Andel scored 11 points to lead the Bucs (18-5), while fellow senior Zac Holman added eight.
“I’m thankful for our seniors, and the example that they’ve set in this program,” Immink continued. “Because of their commitment and the time and effort they’ve put into it, they’ve helped us put together two really good seasons.
“18 wins does not happen a lot, so there’s a lot to be proud of. I’m really pleased with how this team came together. Our underclassmen worked hard and contributed a lot to our success. Our team had a lot of moving pieces heading into the season, but I thought we came together well as a team.”
Jermayne Golidy scored 18 points to lead the Big Reds (23-0), while Sam Cornett added 14.
For Holman, the disappointment in defeat was magnified by the fact that the team didn’t perform at its highest level.
“I think this team can hang with anyone in the state,” he said after the game. “I just don’t think we played our best game today, and they probably did. They came in ready and focused and knocked down shots. You just have to give them credit. They’re a great team.”
Holman has helped the Grand Haven program to four district finals appearances in his time at the school, something he probably won’t fully appreciate it until the future.
“I worked so hard this offseason to get past this point, so it hurts right now to not accomplish that,” he said. “But looking back, to reach the district title game four years in a row is pretty impressive. It’s never easy to win a game in the postseason, and I’m proud of this group.
“I’m so thankful for my career here at Grand Haven. I put a lot of time and effort into it, and I’m hoping I left it better than how it was when I started. “
Holman recently committed to continue his basketball career at Wheaton College in Illinois.
“I talked with my family a lot, and it just felt like home to me,” he said of his decision. “I’m really excited to start my college career there. They’ve already talked about having me play shooting guard or point guard and work into that role.”
As he leaves his mark on the program, Holman had a simple message to the next Grand Haven boys basketball squad — keep working.
“I told them, ‘you guys have to continue to work hard during the offseason, just like we did this past summer. Put the time in at the gym, work on your form, get in the weight room, and stay out of trouble.’ That’s a great group of guys in there, and I know they will lead this program past where I’m leaving it.’”