Johnson, Lakers quiet former teammates

Lakers thrilled to beat former teammates Steffel, Groothuis
Nate Thompson
Dec 22, 2012


Spring Lake senior forward Austin Johnson provided a glimpse of the animosity felt between a few Spring Lake and Grand Haven’s varsity basketball players on Friday following the Lakers’ 50-42 victory at Spring Lake High School.

The win snapped Spring Lake’s five-year losing streak to Grand Haven since the rivalry was renewed in 2007.

“It means a lot for this team, because we’ve had so many people leave our basketball program.”

Johnson was referencing Grand Haven guards Ethan Groothuis and Sean Steffel, who both previously attended Spring Lake, but transferred to the school across the bridge following their freshman seasons.

They both played vital roles in the Bucs’ 63-43 victory over the Lakers last season, but were on the other end on Friday, despite Steffel’s 16 points.

“They go over there and think they’re hot (stuff),” Johnson said. “They’re talking (trash) on the court and saying stuff like ‘Oh, you’re not that good or whatever. I mean, I feel we have more talent at every level. We won tonight without Erik Johnson (who was out sick). With him, we would have beat them even worse.”

Johnson, who entered Friday’s game averaging 26 points per game, was held to 16 by the Bucs on Friday.

Both Steffel and Groothuis received some scorn from the Lakers’ student section, which chanted “traitors” during their free throw or shot attempts.



This reporting is incredibly irresponsible. I understand the comments made by Johnson, he is a high school student with high school emotions running high on an emotional night. It is up to the adults to realize that this article will do nothing but amp up the animosity between these kids and possibly result in future confrontations. They are not pros, they are 17-18 year old kids who do not deserve to be ridiculed in front of their entire community for doing nothing wrong.

Again, Austin, I understand exactly where you're coming from. The last time SL beat GH was a very similar situation. Star player Bart Bitner had transferred to GH for more exposure. Throughout the game chants of "we've got Bitner yes we do, we've got Bitner how 'bout you" came from the GH student section. Once the game was in hand, the SL students responded with "You can keep Bitner."

I get it and I would have probably said the exact same things Austin did. However, I hope some adults who knew better would have been there to help cooler heads prevail. unfortunately Tribune reporters and editors failed to do this.

The Guy

TC17...take a chill pill. You are correct in one's high school sports and they are 17-18. Irresponsible reporting? I cannot believe the depths of the whining from adults. It's just a game!! There is no venue at any level where the behavior the students displayed would be considered inappropriate. How can you have a rivalry when parents like you want to sing lullabys's or cumbayah. People it's a game. Stop whining. GH got smoked. I am from GH. The article should have been more in line with the horrible coaching by GH. Is GH's game plan not to shoot? Is it wrong for anyone to shoot besides Steffel and VanWieren? The SL coaches out coached GH by a mile. Austin was very accurate, if the sick kid would have been there it would have been a blow out. GH was simply out coached. Time for a new GH coach?


Oh, The mistaken you are. I have no problem with what happened at the game - you're right, nothing inappropriate. I love a good rivalry and a little chirping back and forth at the venue is fine. Most of the athletes accept that as part of the game and move on. What we don't need is for that to be ramped up in the community newspaper the next day by adults. I work with high school students for a living, I completely understand their behavior at the game and the fun it brings to the competition. I also understand that reading an article that calls you out in front of the entire community is going to do nothing but build up animosity that can easily spill over outside the court. And before you think I'm just whining because GH lost, please understand I'm an SL alumni and was absolutely thrilled that the Lakers won. I would have loved to have been there to be part of the Lakers' scoreboard clock cheer!


And with that comment I respectfully bow out of this conversation. You may feel free to reply but I have no desire to get into a message board fight so I'm done.


With all of the sadness and loss in the news of late, seems like people don't have enough to do with their free time.

High School boys are cocky and often say things their parents wouldn't. Surprised?
Why bring up the GH coaches? Some of us feel exceptionally blessed to be a part of an organization that doesn't only concentrate on winning, but also tries to invest in building self-esteem, teaching values, encouraging excellence in academics and so much more...Incidently, we do pull off a significant amount of wins in Grand Haven-

Be glad that there are still functioning families who want the best for their boys and perhaps aren't only concentrating on basketball but rather the overall BEST interest of their children when they decide to make a big switch in school systems. I'm certain it isn't pleasant hearing the rude comments and silly little jabs in such a small community.

Try to begin the New Year with a little something positive. My folks always said, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". I'll do the same.


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