Spring Lake relied on a combination of stellar man-to-man defense and outstanding rebounding to help the Lakers score their first victory of the season on Friday, a 46-29 win over Lakes Eight Conference rival Grant at Spring Lake High School.
Spring Lake improves to 1-4 overall and 1-1 in Lakes Eight Conference play.
“We’re still just one game out of first place in the league (behind Ludington),” said Spring Lake coach Rich Hyde.
The Lakers held the visiting Tigers to just 10 points at the half, helping the hosts build a 13-point lead. Spring Lake used its size advantage in its favor, as the Lakers outrebounded the Tigers by a substantial 40-17 margin. Senior Jewel Wiersma led the effort, grabbing 11 rebounds, while Megan VanDeWeg snared seven and Kelsee Zuidema had six.
“We struggle putting the ball in the hoop for stretches, so we have to get those second- and third-chance opportunities,” Hyde said. “The girls really do a good job of rebounding. We chase after the ball and really crash hard.”
Spring Lake’s lead increased to 35-19 at the end of three quarters, but the Tigers made a late rally, thanks to leading scorer Dayle Wood, who scored eight of her game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter after Spring Lake switched to a zone defense.
“We tried a zone just to try a different look, knowing we’d be facing teams coming up that we’ll have to use it,” Hyde said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t keep track of their leading scorer and she hit a few outside shots.”
Grant never seriously threatened the Lakers’ lead, but got close enough to prompt Hyde to switch back to man-to-man.
Hyde was pleased with his team’s balanced scoring on the night, led by a season-best 11 points from guard Molly Miedema. Zuidema added 10 points and guard Brittany Beeler totaled nine.
Defensively, Wiersma, Beeler and Miedema each stood out with three steals apiece.
Hyde said his team cut down on turnovers (21), and while they’re showing signs of improvement offensively, they’re still not where they need to be.
“Through this rough start, the girls have stayed positive and they haven’t lost sight of their goals,” he said.
Spring Lake will face a pair of tougher tests at the Mona Shores’ Holiday Tournament next week, with contests against the host Sailors and Muskegon Big Reds on Thursday and Friday.