Gritty, not pretty

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:03 PM

It’s been more than 12 months since the Grand Haven varsity girls basketball team has lost a game.

The Buccaneers weren’t about to let that streak come to an end against a gritty Muskegon team on Friday.

To see more photos from Friday's game, click here.

Grand Haven (9-0) led by just a single point, 37-36, early in the fourth quarter, but outscored the Big Reds 22-8 over the game’s final six minutes to win, 59-44.

“To be honest, I’m pretty confident in our team, and I was never really worried,” said Buccaneers’ senior Hannah Wilkerson, who provided a much-needed offensive lift for her team with 18 points. “They were good. They were fast. They got their hands on a lot of passes. We just came out and played with more urgency down the stretch.”

Grand Haven hadn’t played since Dec. 28, a span of 15 days. That rust was extremely evident on Friday, especially in the first half, when the Bucs shot just 12 percent from the floor. They trailed 9-4 early on following a 3-pointer by Muskegon’s Keiarra Guy, but battled back to lead 13-11 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a pair of buckets by backup guard Mallory Beswick.

In the second quarter, it was point guard Amanda Merz who gave the Bucs a boost, scoring her team’s only two buckets of the quarter as Grand Haven scrapped its way to a 21-18 halftime lead.

Muskegon hung around all night thanks to a tremendous defensive effort. The Bucs tried to pound the ball inside to 6-foot-5 center Abby Cole, and Cole struggled tremendously from the floor, making just 2-of-13 shots. Still, thanks to six made free throws, she finished with a triple-double: 10 points to go along with 18 rebounds and 13 blocked shots. She also had a team-high five assists.

“Muskegon is a good team,” said Grand Haven coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer. “We were a little rusty. We had a great week of practice, but you can’t re-enact that speed in practice. They’re faster than us at every position.

“This was good for us. This is a team we’ll probably see in the district finals. It’s nice to play against them, because we haven’t seen this type of team yet.

“It wasn’t a great game, but we’d feel a lot worse if we had lost.”

Read more of this story in today's print edition or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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