If you can play poorly on the road and still win, you must be doing something right.
Grand Haven’s varsity girls basketball team did just that on Friday, overcoming a lackluster performance to score a 40-32 win at Grandville in a battle for first place in the O-K Red Conference.
“We didn’t play well, but I guess if we can go on the road and not play well and still win against a pretty good team, that’s a good sign,” said Bucs’ coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer, whose team improves to 12-0 overall and 3-0 in league games. “We were not very cohesive tonight.”
The Buccaneers looked poised to blow the game open early, leading by 15 points in the second quarter.
With the seemingly comfortable lead, Kowalczyk-Fulmer let her 6-foot-5 center, Abby Cole, take a rest on the bench, and Grandville responded. Jessica Dood poured in six consecutive points, giving the host Bulldogs momentum going into the half, trailing 23-14.
Grand Haven then came out in the third period and turned the ball over on its first three possessions. The Bucs made just one bucket in the third as Grandville closed to within seven at 29-22.
The Bulldogs continued to chip away at the Bucs’ lead and eventually got to within four points early in the fourth quarter.
Grand Haven finally managed to get things going as Taylor Craymer scored on the inside. Then Cole swatted away a Grandville shot on the defensive end, leading to Hannah Wilkerson’s 3-pointer that pushed the Bucs’ lead back to 10 with just under 4 minutes to play.
Amanda Merz turned in a gutsy performance for the Bucs as she finished with a team-high 12 points to go with eight rebounds. She missed her first two free throws, then proceeded to make six straight, including several in a row late in the game.
Cole, who has been hampered by a knee injury, scored just eight points, all in the first half. She went 0-4 from the free throw line. Still, she made a difference on defense, blocking eight shots and altering several others. She also grabbed 11 rebounds to go with two assists.
“Her legs were tired,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “We didn’t practice her much this week.”