Lock-down defense — which has been the staple of Hewitt’s teams at Grand Haven — was once again the Bucs’ calling card against the Sailors.
Grand Haven’s trapping defense helped the Buccaneer surge to an eight-point lead at the half, and more hard-nosed play in the fourth quarter boosted the Bucs (1-1 overall) to their first victory of the young season.
“We didn’t get into (the trapping defense) early, because you’ve got to score to be able to press,” Hewitt said. “But the trap definitely created some things for us.
“Mona Shores did a great job of controlling the tempo offensively and they put us in some difficult situations to shoot,” Hewitt added. “Our kids were taking good shots. We want them taking those shots. We just need to start knocking them down.”
Grand Haven didn’t connect on its first field goal until 1 minute, 37 seconds remaining in the first quarter, but only trailed by a 6-5 score at the end of the first.
The Bucs’ quick guards — including Sean Steffel, Alex Eidson, Kevin LaCroix and Matt Kroll, started to become a pain for the Sailors in the second, frustrating the hosts with their half-court pressure.
It paid dividends with under two minutes remaining in the half. Eidson completed a three-point play following a Bucs’ steal to give them their first lead at 12-9.
Seconds later, another Sailors’ turnover put senior wing Danny Cotter on the break, and he completed another three-point play in spectacular fashion. Cotter drove to the hoop, absorbed a lot of contact and flipped a blinded shot over his head that bounced on the rim and through.
Junior Ethan Groothuis completed the Bucs’ sizzling spurt as he converted on a nifty reverse layup with 31 seconds left for a 17-9 halftime lead.
Mona Shores answered the call in the third quarter, as the Sailors turned in a 11-2 run to regain the lead. Six points during the spurt came from Mona Shores’ athletic senior wing, Torin Carlson. Carlson led the Sailors with 11 points.
Grand Haven bullied its way back early in the fourth. After he failed to convert on a tough runner, Eidson stole away the rebound, converted a layup and was fouled.
The three-point play put Grand Haven up for good.
A minute later, senior Brent Boerema did the same, stealing away a Mona Shores’ rebound and converting a short two-pointer that gave the Bucs a 33-30 advantage.
With the lead in their favor, Hewitt spread out his offense, forcing Mona Shores out of the paint.
“We wanted to bring them out a little, which we felt would open things up. It created some nice lanes for Alex,” Hewitt said.
The move helped Grand Haven go on an 8-1 run, which all but sealed the victory.
Eidson had 15 points to lead the Bucs and also had six rebounds and four assists. Ty VanWieren grabbed a team-high seven rebounds for Grand Haven, while Matt Kroll had four steals.
Grand Haven will look for back-to-back wins today, as it hosts Traverse City Central at 5 p.m.
Junior Varsity: Grand Haven raced out to an 18-4 first-quarter lead and never looked back, defeated Mona Shores, 56-30. Korey Searl had 10 points for the Bucs (2-0). Connor Grimes added 11 points and five rebounds, and Aaron Shumaker had three assists.