Typically, teams’ Senior Nights are emotional affairs as players celebrate, and lament, their final game on their home court.
That wasn’t the case at Grand Haven Fieldhouse on Tuesday.
The Buccaneers celebrated Senior Night, but they still have a handful of home games remaining, including the Class A district tournament, which begins the week of Feb. 25.
As a result, there weren’t an abundance of tears, just a lot of very good basketball played by the host Buccaneers, who raced out to an early lead and cruised to a 56-31 victory over the visiting Falcons of East Kentwood.
“It was a little emotional, but it’s not our last home game or anything,” said senior Angie Schultz, who got the start, along with her four classmates. Schultz had her best game of the season, finishing with seven points, four rebounds and four steals.
“It’s crazy the season has gone so fast,” Schultz added.
The Bucs are now 15 games into their season, and have won all 15 games. Tuesday’s victory was one of their most convincing. They led 32-12 at halftime thanks to key 3-pointers by Schultz and fellow senior Grace Kendra, along with 11 first-half points by Abby Cole.
The Bucs then poured in the first eight points of the second half, including a long pass from Cole to Courtney Springer for a layup and a steal by Schultz, which led to another bucket inside by Cole.
East Kentwood couldn’t compete with the Bucs’ superior size, especially after starting forward Erykah Ross went down with an ankle injury in the opening minutes of the game. She did not return.
“Our starting forward got hurt in the first two minutes, and that’s huge,” coach Jimmy Carter said. “We’re already small, and when she goes out, that’s one of our players who’s able to score.
“Grand Haven is big, they’re well coached, and they believe in themselves, and that’s huge.”
The Buccaneers were brimming with confidence on Tuesday, regardless of the lineup coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer put out on the court.
She started all five seniors — only two of whom typically start — and that group raced out to a quick 6-2 lead.
“It obviously wasn’t as emotional because it’s not the last time the kids play in front of the home crowd, but it’s nice being able to start our five seniors, and all our seniors played well,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “Those seniors have put a lot of time into the program. There’s a reason we’re as good as we are. I’ve been coaching a lot of these girls since they were in third grade. They put a lot into the program, and they’re great role models.
“This was certainly a nice win for our seniors.”
Cole, the Bucs’ 6-foot-5 center, had her typically big game with 19 points, 9 blocked shots and six rebounds. Wilkerson added seven points while Merz had five steals and Springer added six assists.
Grand Haven is now 6-0 in O-K Red Conference action heading into Friday’s key league showdown at Rockford. The Rams sit in second place in the league at 5-1 following their 51-39 win over Hudsonville on Tuesday.
Next week Tuesday, the Bucs will play a make-up game at home against Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
Junior Varsity: Grand Haven defeated East Kentwood, 32-25. Amy Kober scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had three steals for the Bucs (8-6). Sawyer Overway scored 10 points to go with three steals, while Hanna Rinkevicz scored four points and grabbed 10 boards.