There was a very big omission from Mona Shores’ starting lineup on Wednesday night when the Sailors’ varsity boys basketball team played at Spring Lake.
Seven-foot-tall senior center Adam Rayner wasn’t on the floor, and coach Nick Bronsema said there was a stragegic reason behind the move.
Whatever Bronsema’s motivation was, the tactic worked. When Rayner came off the bench in the second quarter, he exploded for nine consectutive points, and his defense and rebounding down the stretch were key as the Sailors (2-1) scored a hard-fought 60-57 win over the Lakers (2-1).
“Adam means a lot to our program, and that’s why we didn’t start him tonight,” Bronsma said. “We wanted to show him that we expect a lot out of him, and he certain stepped up.”
The two teams were tied at 15-all after the opening quarter, but Mona Shores erupted for 21 points in the second stanza to lead 36-27 at the half.
Spring Lake battled back and actually took the lead late in the third quarter, then Mona Shores surged back on top in the fourth.
The Lakers trailed by six points with 1:38 remaining, then leading scorer Austin Johnson was called for a charge.
The Lakers could have folded, but instead, they stepped up and got the ball back on a steal by Adam Clauss, which led to a Johnson layup.
Clauss then buried a 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining to make it a one-point game at 57-56.
The Lakers twice had chances to take the lead in the final minute, but misfired on back-to-back possessions.
Trailing by two points late in the game, they got the ball to freshman sharp shooter Keegan George in the corner, but his triple try bounced high off the rim.
Mona Shores’ Cameron Matthews went to the line and hit one free throw but missed the second, leaving the door open for the Lakers, but Johnson’s pull-up triple at the buzzer hit the front rim.
“It was a good game for us, because we’re not going to see many teams in our league that have the athleticism or the depth of Mona Shores,” Lakers’ coach Bill Core said. “We knew this was a big game, and we wanted to push the limits and see what we could do. We had a tough second quarter and were down by nine points, but we challenged them at halftime come out with more fight, more physical play.”
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