Playing against a young Allendale team, Spring Lake varsity boys basketball coach Bill Core was hoping for his team’s senior leadership and big-game experience to help turn the tide.
Core received exactly what he wanted from his group — a consistent, balanced performance, which ended in a convincing 71-51 victory over the host Falcons.
“We talked about how they had five sophomores up, and our experience, our consistency, would be key, and I’m really pleased with that,” said Core, whose team scored 17, 18, 16 and 20 points in the four quarters. “We didn’t have one big quarter, one big stretch. We were consistent all the way thorugh.”
One Laker who epitomized that consistency was senior point guard Adam Clauss. He didn’t score a single point, but made his presence felt in several other aspects of the game.
“Adam didn’t score, but he had five steals, five assists, only one turnover, guarded their point guard, and got us into our offense,” Core said. “A lot of coaches have to call out the play on every possession. With Adam, I don’t have to do that. He looks for mismatches and gets us into the right offense.”
While Clauss provided many of the intangibles, it was senior Austin Johnson who provided the points. He had a rough first quarter, scoring only three points, but got stronger as the game went on and finished with 29, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
“They came out face-guarding me the first quarter, and that kind of threw me off at first,” said Johnson, who also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. “Then they stopped in the second quarter, and I started forcing shots because I felt like I was getting open.
“After that, I settled down and started playing better.”
Johnson was especially lethal when the Falcons tried to press late in the game. He slashed through the open lane for several easy finger rolls, and also got to the line six times in the fourth.
“It’s going to be hard to press us, because we have Charlie (Warber) and Erik (Johnson) out on the wings, and I just fill the lane,” he said.
Johnson certainly wasn’t a one-man show on Tuesday. In fact, three other Lakers scored in double figures. Junior center Nick Goeglein scored 11 points to go with his eight rebounds. He also played outstanding defense against Allendale’s 6-foot-8 sophomore Sam Szarowicz, holding him to just four points.
Warber and Erik Johnson each scored 10 points for the Lakers.
Core received a pleasant surprise from freshman Keegan George, who came out and drilled a pair of first-quarter 3-pointers. George just joined the varsity team late last week after it was determined that senior J.P. Batts would miss the first 10 games of the season violating team rules.
“Keegan came in right off the bat and made a statement,” Core said.
The Lakers helped maintain the lead throughout the game by converting on 19-of-22 free throws.
Allendale was led by junior guard Haiden Majewski, who finished with 11 points. Blake Bachelor, Jordon Deming and Trevor Bastien each scored eight points for the Falcons.
After starting the season on the road, Spring Lake now comes home on Friday for the first of 10 consecutive home games. The Lakers then play nine straight on the road before finishing the season at home.