Facing a traditionally strong program in Hudsonville, the Bucs dropped the first Baker game against the Eagles, but simply shrugged it off as a minor blip. Grand Haven won the next Baker game by just three pins then dominated the Eagles in match play by taking 19 out of a possible 20 points.
With their 23-7 victory, Grand Haven improves to 4-0 in the O-K Red Conference and takes another solid step on a path to a potential league title.
“Coach (Pat Mitchell) told us before we started that Hudsonville would probably be our toughest opponent yet,” said Grand Haven senior John Morehouse. “Even after we lost that first Baker game, we told ourselves we could still do this. We cam back and won the second Baker game and match play is where we’re the best. We were able to total a lot of pins.”
Morehouse led the charge in what has turned out to be a very balanced squad. He rolled games of 211 and then his best effort to date of 275 to earn two points.
“It felt nice,” he said. “I’ve just been really consistent on my first ball. I’ve been able to clear them away, or not leave many behind. And I’ve been really consistent on my spares.”
Morehouse said he worked hard on his game throughout the summer and added with the technical advice from Mitchell, the Bucs’ senior could be making a return trip to the state finals.
Morehouse isn’t the only one, however. The Bucs’ starting five totaled 2,081 pins in match play, compared to the Eagles’ 1,724.
“We’ve got 8-9 boys right now averaging over 190,” Mitchell said. “They have surprised me at how quickly they’ve improved. They’ve responded to instruction and our coaching each year and they understand the adjustments they need to make. We shot video of everyone and used it as a training tool, so they could see their form and what they need to do to throw more quality shots.”
“The biggest thing is we’re bowling as a team. It seems like somebody new steps up each time, and today it was Johnny.”
Morehouse’s teammates weren’t too shabby against the Eagles, either. Senior Nick Laird rolled games of 215 and 206 in match play to earn two points. Shamar Stailey’s games of 164 and 186 were good enough to earn two points, as were freshman Justin White’s games of 190 and 224.
Senior Nate Hix earned a point with an outstanding game of 223, but failed to sweep in Game 2, despite totaling a 187.
“I’m surprised we have done this well this season,” Morehouse admitted. “We’ve had a lot of guys step up. We got this freshman (White) who is doing really good and a lot of guys who started last year and have improved.”
Grand Haven must still topple Grandville (on Tuesday) and East Kentwood before they can declare themselves O-K Red champs. That goal, as well as the team qualifying for state is on the Bucs’ radar.
“It’s very possible,” Morehouse said. “We’ve got to take care of some of the small things like our spare shooting. If we take care of the small things, we could be right there.”
Mitchell said Grand Haven’s girls also continue to show improvement, but they’re not at the same level of Hudsonville.
The Eagles swept the Baker games and knocked down more than 400 pins than the Bucs in the 29-1 final. The lone Grand Haven point was earned by Marina Chavez, whose 170 effort in Game 2 ended the shutout. Grand Haven also received a nice performance from Sam McKinnon, who rolled games of 115 and 156.
“The girls who were averaging in the 60s or 70s, most are now averaging over 100,” Mitchell said. “They’re improving steadily.”