It was a tale of two halves at Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Tuesday evening.
The host Cougars dominated the opening half, leading 30-15 at halftime.
The visiting Buccaneers of Grand Haven made a game out of it in the second half, but came up just short, losing 44-40.
“I know this sounds negative, but I thought we gave them too much respect and that impacted the way we played defensively,” said Grand Haven coach Steve Hewitt. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re an outstanding team, but we were on our heels defensively throughout the first half.
“Offensively, we were rushing things and settling for outside shots. (GRCC) was athletic and long and that hurt us. We weren’t able to penetrate that often in the first half.”
The loss was the first of the year for the Bucs and leaves both teams with identical 3-1 records.
Sean Steffel scored a game-high 17 points for Grand Haven, knocking down a trio of 3-pointers. Ty VanWieren added 13 points and 10 rebounds, but only two other players scored — Isaak Newhouse and Connor Grimes, each with five points.
“I thought Ty had an outstanding game,” Hewitt said. “We really played through him in the second half. He did a great job passing and finding the open man, or getting to the basket or to the free throw line.”
Hewitt said the Bucs rallied simply by turning it up a notch defensively and being more efficient on the offensive end.
Grand Haven trailed by six with 2 minutes to play, but clawed back and had a few chances to tie or take the lead down the stretch. Steffel had a quality 3-point look with 5 seconds left that would have given the Bucs a lead, but it was off the mark.
Jon Marosi led GRCC with 16 points, while DeMarkus Stuckey added 10.
“We only had four turnovers, which is outstanding,” Hewitt said. “There was a lot of good things from the kids tonight, despite the loss.”
Grand Haven will need more balance on the offensive end if they hope to beat Spring Lake on Friday night. The Buccaneers have won five in a row over the Lakers since the two neighboring schools renewed their rivalry back in 2007.
Junior Varsity: Grand Haven improved to 4-0 with a 51-42 win over Catholic Central. Schaeffer Thelen had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Bucs, Adam Abraham had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and BJ Nahal contributed 13 points and three assists.
Freshmen: Grand Haven suffered a 38-35 loss to Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Zach Sinke scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Jason Long had eight points and nine boards. Drew Hewitt chipped in with eight points.