Hannah Wilkerson played AAU basketball with Mona Shores’ Jasmyn Walker all summer, so the Buccaneer senior knew a thing or two about the Sailor star’s game.
Wilkerson used that insider knowledge to hold Waker to 11 points and nine rebounds — not bad numbers, but nowhere close to the 19 points and 17 boards she had on Tuesday — as the Buccaneers romped past the Sailors, 62-36.
“I played with her all summer so I knew how she plays,” said Wilkerson, who scored nine points for the unbeaten Buccaneers. “She’s a great player, and you can’t stop a great player. We tried to make her take contested shots and make someone else beat us.”
The Sailors hung tough against the Bucs into the third quarter, and clawed back from 14 points down to trail by just eight late in the third, 34-26.
But the Bucs turned up the heat, scoring 10 consecutive points to put the game away. Most of that production came from senior center Abby Cole. The 6-foot-5 Cole, playing against a Mona Shores team with nobody near her size, scored a game-high 19 points, including six in the third quarter. Her three-point play with 3 minutes remaining in the period gave the Bucs a 37-26 cushion, then Wilkerson stole the ball and went in for a layup.
Another Bucs’ steal, this one by Taylor Craymer, led to another Wilkerson basket, then Grace Kendra buried her second 3-pointer of the game, this one to give the Bucs a 44-26 advantage.
Mona Shores played without its starting point guard, senior Morgan Smith, for most of the game. She banged heads with Cole midway through the first period and definitely took the worse of the confrontation. While Smith remained on the ground for several minutes before being helped back to the bench with an apparent concussion, Cole didn’t leave the game.
“When you take an all-conference guard out of the game in the first few minutes, it hurts your depth,” Sailors’ coach Brad Kurth said. “We made that run (in the third quarter), and we’re bringing everything we’ve got, and the gas tank was on empty. We just couldn’t sustain it.
“Hand it to Grand Have. Their depth made the difference.”
The Bucs’ depth, and their size in the middle were the difference-makers. Cole, who blocked 17 shots in Tuesday’s win against Holland Christian, had four blocks on Friday, but changed many shots as well. She also grabbed nine rebounds.
“When we play Grand Haven, we have to run things differently than against anyone else in the state,” he said. “Abby Cole’s a great (defender) in there.”
Taylor Craymer finished with 11 boards and four points for the Bucs. Angie Schultz buried a late 3-pointer and scored seven points.
Defensively, guards Mallory Beswick and Amanda Merz pestered the Sailors’ ball handlers all night, finishing with four steals each. The Bucs as a team had 19 takeaways.
Beswick and Wilkerson each had five assists, while Krysteena Davis added two blocked shots.
The Bucs are now 4-0 on the season, with a stiff test at Wayland coming up on Tuesday.
“This team has a lot of potential,” Wilkerson said. “Coach was saying that she things this team could be as good as last year when it’s all said and done. We’re not there yet, but no one wants to lose a game this year.”
The Bucs went 27-1 a year ago, winning the Class A state title.