The Lakers hung with the Fighting Scots early, but turnovers and empty offensive possessions by Spring Lake helped Caledonia pull away for a 48-31 road win.
“We knew we were in for a tough one tonight, and we talked at halftime and after the game about focusing on getting better as a team,” said Spring Lake head coach Cavin Mohrhardt. “We learned a lot about ourselves tonight, and we’re figuring things out the more we play.
“I think playing teams like Ottawa Hills, Caledonia and Rockford are only going to make us better in the long run. We learn so much more out of games like this than we would by beating a lesser team by 40-50 points.”
Ball control was a big difference-maker in Friday night’s contest, as the Lakers turned the ball over 25 times, while Caledonia only coughed it up 12 times. The Fighting Scots also scored 20 of their 48 points off of Spring Lake turnovers.
“Tonight, we just had too many turnovers and we weren’t very efficient on offense,” Mohrhardt added. “We are way too talented of a group to only score 30 points. I think we were a little soft on the boards, and that turned into some offensive rebounds for them, which turned into extra possessions.
“It really just comes down to throwing crisper and making the easy passes. Some of those passes might work against other teams on our schedule, but you can’t throw lob passes into the paint against teams like Caledonia and not expect them to make a play on it.”
Caledonia came down with 11 offensive rebounds compared to just six for Spring Lake. The Fighting Scots recorded 16 second-chance points off of those opportunities, while Spring Lake didn’t have any second-chance points.
Caledonia used strong post play and an irritating full-court press early on in the game to take a 15-10 lead over Spring Lake at the end of the first quarter.
The Lakers’ offense stalled out in the second quarter, helping Caledonia outscore the Lakers 12-4 in the second frame to take a 27-14 lead into halftime.
The Lakers caught fire in the third quarter, with Linsey Paggeot and Madelyn Nelson each knocking down 3-pointers and the offense using some quick transition offense to give Spring Lake a spark.
However, the Fighting Scots had an answer on the other end of the court, leaning on the experienced play of Sammie Gehrls and Anna LoMonaco to match the Lakers shot for shot.
As the fourth quarter began, the Lakers trailed 40-26. The Fighting Scots clamped down on defense in the final quarter of play, holding Spring Lake to just five points and preserving their 48-31 win.
For Spring Lake, senior guard Linsey Paggeot led the way with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and added two rebounds and two assists.
Sophomore forward Abbi Perkins scored six points and added two rebounds, two assists, and two steals, while junior forward Jenna Core had five points and six rebounds.
Rounding out the scoring for the Lakers were: Madeline Zenas (four points), Madelyn Nelson (three points) and Phoebe Saunders (two points).
“Linsey and Madelyn did a really nice job running the offense and taking their opportunities when they were there,” Mohrhardt added. “I thought Abbi played extremely hard down in the paint. For a sophomore to be doing that for us, it only makes us a deeper, more complete team.”
Mohrhardt saw flashes of potential from the offense during their third-quarter run but hopes that can become a more consistent habit in the future.
“We found a nice pace on offense in the third quarter, and I think part of that was us knocking down some outside shots, which opened things up,” he continued. “We’re still working things out offensively, and I think we’ll get there.
“We’ve got Phoebe Saunders back now, and I thought she added a nice element to our offense when she was out there. She’s one of the best ball handlers we’ve ever had, and she uses her speed and athleticism to put stress on the defense.”
The Lakers host another O-K Red opponent Tuesday, as they take on Rockford at 7 p.m.
“There are no easy games in our non-conference schedule this year,” Mohrhardt lamented. “We’re going to continue to test ourselves against good teams, and hopefully by Christmas break, we’ll have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t work for us.”
Junior varsity: Caledonia defeated Spring Lake, 45-19. Madalyn Lisman led the Lakers with eight points and seven rebounds, while Mia McDermott scoring six points. Julia Bajt chipped in three points and two assists.