On Monday, the Buccaneers kicked it into high gear on both ends of the court with a 62-43 win over Kenowa Hills in the Class A district tournament at Cedar Springs High School.
Grand Haven advances to Wednesday’s district semifinal contest against Mona Shores. That game will tip off at 5 p.m.
“We played really well together as a team,” said Grand Haven junior Sean Steffel, who gave the Bucs a spark with his defense and also scored 14 points. “We didn’t want to go out with a first-round loss.
“We’ve had a big problem with slow starts lately, so we had to come out and play with a lot of energy.”
To see more photos from Monday's game, click here.
The Bucs provided plenty of energy on both ends of the court. They found themselves tied with Kenowa Hills at 14-all at the end of the first quarter, then turned up on the defensive pressure and outscored the Knights 11-6 in the second.
Grand Haven grabbed the lead for good on a sparkling play a few minutes into the second quarter. Alex Eidson grabbed a defensive rebound and fired the ball ahead to teammate Matt Davis, who had leaked out behind the defense. The pass was just out of Davis’ reach, so he stretched out and saved the ball to Steffel, who converted a contested layup for a 20-18 lead.
Eidson drilled a 3-pointer moments later, then after a three-minute scoring drought for both teams, Eidson scored on a tough runner in traffic in the closing moments of the first half to give the Bucs a 25-20 lead.
Eidson finished with a game-high 19 points.
The Bucs pulled away in the second half. Eidson’s 4-point play gave Grand Haven a 33-24 lead, then Steffel recorded back-to-back steals, both of which he turned into layups. The second was spectacular as the 5-foot, 11-inch Steffel spun away from one defender right into Kenowa Hills’ 6-4 forward Trey Bowman. Steffel somehow managed to get the shot to fall while being fouled by Bowman, and the ensuing free throw put the Bucs on top, 38-24.
Kenowa Hills shot just 31 percent for the game, and only one Knights’ player — senior sharp shooter Ryan Seely — managed to score in double figures. Seely tossed in 17 points.
“Our defense was better,” Bucs’ coach Steve Hewitt said. “We came out a little better and didn’t give up the easy stuff. We still made some fundamental mistakes that we need to work on, but our press got us going. We can mix up the tempo a little bit, and we’re better at that then pressing the whole game.”
Grand Haven’s defensive pressure — provided primarily by Matt Kroll, Kevin LaCroix, Isaak Newhouse and Steffel — led to several Kenowa Hills turnovers. That helped the Bucs shoot 49 percent for the game. They knocked down 4-of-10 from 3-point range and were also excellent from the foul line, hitting 12-of-14 free throws.
Ty VanWieren had a strong game, scoring eight points, while Jeremy Lattig, who blocked three shots, added six points. Eidson had four of the Bucs’ 16 assists, while Davis had three. Kroll and Eidson both grabbed six rebounds.