Instead, the No. 1-ranked Buccaneers raced past the Wildcats, scoring a 56-37 win over Northview to wrap up Grand Haven’s second consecutive regional championship.
Northview ran over a minute off the clock on several first-quarter possessions, and whichever player Bucs’ sharp-shooting guard Alex Law covered was asked to run all over the court, trying to make Law use up her energy on the defensive end.
The Bucs responded by switching to a 1-3-1 zone and trapped the Wildcats at every opportunity. The move worked to perfection as the Bucs forced turnovers on Northview’s first several possessions. Northview didn’t even attempt a shot until 3 minutes, 30 seconds into the game.
The Wildcats kept things close early, drawing to within a point at 4-3 on Taylor Shomin’s 3-pointer, but a 3-pointer by the Bucs’ Law early in the second quarter put the Bucs ahead 11-5. Bucs’ center Abby Cole scored a low post bucket and made it 13-5, then three consecutive steals, all of which led to layups by Jordan Keefe, helped the Bucs race to a commanding 19-5 lead.
“I wasn’t anticipating (a stall), but it was probably a good move,” said Grand Haven coach Katie Kowalczyl-Fulmer, whose team improves to 24-1 and advances to Tuesday’s quarterfinal contest against old nemesis East Lansing.
“It took us a second to get into the 1-3-1 trap, and once we did, we got a few steals, and it didn’t make sense for them to hold the ball once they were behind.
“The 1-3-1 was good for us, especially with Abby, who is so long and gets in the passing lanes.”
While Keefe was the defensive star for the Bucs — she finished with eight steals — it was point guard Shar’Rae Davis who took over the game offensively. Davis scored eight points in the opening half, then canned a 3-pointer in the third quarter, putting the Bucs ahead 31-14. Davis had eight third-quarter points and finished with a game-high 18 to go with her four assists.
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