The Buccaneers’ boys overcame several stiff tests in the state tournament, including an overtime victory against Forest Hills Central in the regional tournament. A 1-0 win over Troy in the state semifinals propelled Grand Haven into the state title game against Canton. The two teams waged a tremendous back-and-forth battle before Canton scored in the closing minutes to end the Buccaneers’ dreams of the school’s first-ever state title.
Senior midfielder Jacob VanderLaan was named to the state’s Dream Team following the season, and goalie Ethan Beswick was also named first-team all-state.
Spring Lake’s state tournament run was nearly derailed in the district tournament. The Lakers received a serious scare from Reeths-Puffer in the district finals before winning in a penalty kick shootout. Spring Lake went on to handily beat No. 1-ranked Mason in the regional tournament. A 2-0 win over Mattawan pushed the Lakers into the finals, and they took a 1-0 lead over Auburn Hills Avondale before coming up short, 2-1.
Western Michigan Christian is no stranger to deep runs in the state tournament, and the Warriors made another strong run this fall. They dominated the competition throughout the district and regional tournaments, and blanked Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Central in the semifinals, 2-0.
The Warriors looked to be the better of the two teams in their Division 4 championship game against Allen Park Inter-City Baptist, but they couldn’t put a ball in the net and eventually suffered a 1-0 overtime loss.
The fact that all three teams came up short in the state finals was vastly disappointing, but the fact that all three reached that lofty spot was a tremendous accomplishment.
The Bucs completed the program’s first-ever 20-0 regular season and reached the Class A state semifinals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center for the first time as well, where they were handed a heart-breaking 39-38 loss to Detroit Renaissance.
Kowalczyk-Fulmer was named the Class A Coach of the Year, while junior point guard Shar’Rae Davis and junior wing Alex Law each earned Class A All-State recognition.
East Grand Rapids gave the Trojans everything they could handle in a memorable five-game match in the state semifinals, but Fruitport’s experience on the big stage help them pull out the nail-biter. The finals lacked the drama the semifinals provided, as Fruitport swept away Tecumseh in a quick three games to become the first team to repeat as champions in Class B since Marysville in 2004.
5. Grand Haven’s varsity football team entered the 2010 season with plenty of questions. The Buccaneers answered those concerns emphatically, putting together a record-breaking season on the offensive side of the ball. All-state quarterback Scott Stall, who missed his junior season with a broken elbow, stormed onto the scene with a big game in the Bucs’ season-opening win at Traverse City Central, and he never slowed down. Stall threw for 2,293 yards and 21 touchdowns as the Bucs posted an 8-2 record. Most of those balls went to senior Danny Cotter, a first-team all-stater who hauled in 62 catches for 1,099 yards and 14 touchdowns. When coach Mike Farley decided to run the ball, the Bucs found plenty of success in the form of Dakota Smith, who carried the ball 245 times for 1,292 yards and 19 scores.
That trio was the main reason the Bucs scored a school-record 347 points this fall.
7. Grand Haven’s varsity hockey team had its most successful season in its decade-long existence in 2010-11. The Buccaneers lost just once throughout the entire regular-season (at Cadillac), and swept through the O-K Tier II conference, winning the outright league championship. The Bucs advanced to the state tournament, where they were handed a surprising 5-0 loss by an outstanding Mona Shores squad.
8. John Potter’s record-breaking career as the place kicker at Western Michigan University came to a disappointing close earlier this week as the Broncos came up just short against Purdue in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit. He finished his career holding the school record for consecutive point-after tries with 128, and also holds the school record for tackles by a kicker with 36. He led the team in scoring all four years and became the school’s all-time scoring leader during the team’s win at Miami on Nov. 16. Potter’s success has stretched far beyond the football field — he was named first-team Capital One Academic All-American after posting a grade-point average of 3.98.
9. Spring Lake’s swimming and diving team turned in an eighth-place finish at the Division 3 state finals on March 12 at the Holland Aquatic Center, capping its most successful season in program history.
Spring Lake set four new school records at the finals, and standout Nick Zacek had a hand in all four. He teamed up with Andrew Hintz, Peter Rick and Thomas Kramer in the 200 medley relay that finished seventh overall in 1:41.16. Zacek also placed second in the 200-yard freestyle, third in the 100 butterfly, and helped the Lakers’ 200 freestyle relay place eighth and break the school record that had stood since 1981.
Disappointed members of the Grand River Sailing Club hoped it will be just a brief period before Grand Haven welcomes the event back. “We have what the presented to us,” said GRSC commodore George “Skip” VerDuin. “From our board’s perspective, we decided not to burn any bridges. We’ll let their experimentation take its course and we’ll give them a couple years, see if there’s any interest in a couple years.”