“It was a hard-fought, O-K Blue win tonight,” Spring Lake head coach Bill Core said. “We played hard. I don’t think we played very smart. We made it hard on ourselves, but a win is a win.”
A young Falcons starting lineup featuring just one senior was billed as an easy win for the experience-laden Lakers, but the physical play of Allendale senior center Mason Vredeveld and sophomore forward Ryan Corner, and the hot shooting of sophomore Bryce Nyboer, made for tough mudding early.
“Allendale, that is a young team that plays hard and is very well coached,” Core said. “I’m sure they have the 2019 and 2020 seasons circled, because they are a force to be reckoned with already.”
The Falcons hit their first four shots, including two 3-pointers for Nyboer to jump out to a 10-0 lead. Spring Lake failed to respond, missing their first 10 attempts from the floor to go with three split trips to the free throw line.
Jack VanWingen broke the slump with a much-needed three-pointer, forcing an Allendale timeout with two minutes left to play in the first quarter. The Lakers would rally from there to take a 14-10 deficit into the first break.
Spring Lake took control in the second as they dialed in their aim, locked down on defense and earned a few offensive rebounds. While their free-throw shooting continued to struggle, some hot shooting from Kyle Weirsma inspired the Laker offense as they took their first lead, 16-14, midway through the quarter before pulling away for a 24-18 halftime lead.
“They came out and hit their first four shots and we kind of sat back and said, ‘Holy smokes,’” Core said. “I thought Jason Keena and Cayden Ball came in off the bench in the second quarter and picked up the defensive intensity and it became infectious.
“We were able to come back, but the game should have been over early. Free-throw shooting was a big issue tonight. It goes to show if you can play defense and get rebounds you can always overcome a cold shooting night.”
Allendale took the court for the second half with a fresh defensive look, the same 1-3-1 zone set that Catholic Central ran against the Lakers to great success last week.
The Lakers held their six-point margin midway through the period with improved post play by Sam Johnson, who began to take control down low. Vredeveld would pick up his fourth foul in the post, forcing Allendale’s lone senior leader to the bench.
Nyboer continued where his center left off, nailing his third and fourth three-pointers of the game to close the gap to one point with 57 seconds left in the quarter.
Spring Lake point guard Ben Arteaga picked up a bucket and foul as time expired. He would miss the free throw to leave the Lakers ahead by two points heading into the final frame.
The Lakers had what it took down the stretch, hitting five of seven free throws in the fourth quarter, compared to their mark of 7-for-19 through the first three quarters.
Arteaga would get loose for another three while Vredeveld picked up his fifth foul on a charging call, opening up the paint for Lorimer to grab his first field goals of the night, securing the Spring Lake win.
VanWingen led the way on the score sheet with 13 points, ahead of Arteaga and Wiersma with nine points apiece. In the post, Johnson finished with seven points and three blocks, while Lorimer had just four points to go with seven rebounds.”
“Sam and Griffin had their hands full down low, any time two of your leading scorers are held to 11 points between them, getting the win is pretty good.
“Ben was huge tonight, he had three 3-pointers and every single one was a big-time shot. Meanwhile, I thought Adam Boes and Ball gave us some much-needed defensive energy.”
It was a roller-coaster defensive game for Spring Lake, as they held the Falcons to four points in the second quarter and five in the final frame, allowing them to rally and pull away at crucial points in the game.
“Defense and rebounding need to be our special, it should be our strength. When you hold a team to 37 points you should win most of the time, but we weren’t consistent enough tonight,” Core said. “We picked it up in the second and fourth quarters at the right times, we need to bring that for 32 minutes.”
The Lakers will have to bring their A-game for all four quarters come Tuesday when they travel to Coopersville for a revenge matchup. The Broncos dealt Spring Lake two of their seven losses last season, and their only conference losses aside from two to eventual champion Catholic Central.