The Spring Lake boys basketball team shot the lights out in their home gym Monday night as they dismantled Orchard View, 60-17, in the opening round of the district tournament. The Cardinals attempted to stall the game away, but couldn’t muster the required stops on defense to keep the game close.
“Credit to them, they thought outside of the box. It is a one-game tournament and Nick Bronsema had a strategy he thought would work and stuck to it,” said Spring Lake head coach Bill Core. “We had some time to think. It caught us off-guard a hair, but we didn’t panic.”
The Cardinals came in as heavy underdogs, and did their utmost to slow down the Lakers and their band of versatile scorers. Orchard View scored the first points of the game and went immediately into stalling mode.
Ben Arteaga wasn’t thrilled with the strategy, apparently, as he drilled three 3-pointers in the first quarter to put the Lakers way ahead.
While Arteaga took care of the scoring, the rest of the Lakers flipped-the-script on Orchard View, making sure their already limited possessions came up empty. At first break, Spring Lake led 15-2. At halftime, they led 26-2.
“They tried a bit of a different strategy, but we scored a lot early,” Arteaga said of the stalling attempt. “I was just feeling confident and feeling my shot and it worked out.
“Defensively, we didn’t panic. We avoided chasing them outside and allowing them to use their quickness to get to the basket,” Core said. “On the other end, we were able to hit some shots. Ben hitting those three’s is big. If it is 7-4 at the end of the quarter and 11-8 at halftime, they hit their locker room saying, ‘It’s working, we can get these guys,’ and that wasn’t the case. It started with not panicking, playing good defense and making shots.”
The third quarter brought renewed energy for Orchard View staring down the end of its season. That, combined with a lackluster Laker effort, added up to a 33-6 lead heading into the final frame.
From there, the Spring Lake reserves took over and capitalized on their time to shine in postseason play, putting up a gaudy 27 points in the fourth quarter, including 15 from junior Sam Negen.
Negen’s 15 points led the Lakers, ahead of Arteaga with nine, Griffin Lorimer with eight, Blayne Willet with seven, Jack VanWingen with six, Jason Keena with four, Kyle Wiersma, Cayden Ball and Zach Foster each with three and Sam Johnson with two.
VanWingen led with nine rebounds and four steals, while Adam Boes dished out three assists.
The win earns Spring Lake a date with Montague in the district semifinals, who enjoyed a first-round bye.
“To win this district, it is one game at a time. To be able to rest your starters quite a bit in the opener and have your reserves play as well as they did is pretty special,” Core said. “You gotta play three games in five days and Montague got the bye, so to get some rest and have your reserves put up 27 is really special”
“It feels good,” Arteaga said of the win. “This was a good momentum builder. Our team is so close, the chemistry is really strong and this was a great way to start.”
Wednesday’s semifinal is set for a 7:30 start time at Spring Lake High School, following the conclusion of Whitehall vs. Orchard View, beginning at 6 p.m.