By Alan Babbitt
The Holland Sentinel
The West Ottawa boys basketball team did not repeat history on “Throwback Night” at home.
The Panthers started with the energy they talked about prior to Tuesday’s visit from Grand Haven and carried it through to a 45-33 win against the Buccaneers at Harbor Lights Middle School.
“That was our emphasis in practice and the first thing we wrote on the board in our pregame talk,” West Ottawa coach Jeff VanFossan said of a faster start. “We’ve got to put together 32 minutes, especially that first eight minutes.
“I thought we came out with good effort, especially on the defensive end. We established our inside game early, which was good. The defense was great all night.”
West Ottawa played on its old high school court for the second consecutive season as part of a special event.
The Panthers improved to 6-5 overall and evened their OK Red Conference record at 2-2 heading into Friday’s visit from Rockford. They dropped Grand Haven to 6-7 overall and 1-3 in the OK Red.
Forward Drew Roubos scored nine points to lead a balanced West Ottawa effort. Forward Trevor VanTubbergen added eight points, while Ato Condelee, Jared McNitt and JD Otteman each chipped in six points apiece.
The Panthers limited Grand Haven to two first-quarter points and six for the entire first half. West Ottawa led 20-6 at halftime.
Grand Haven coach Steve Hewitt credited the Panthers for being the better team from the opening tip.
“They came out with a lot more energy than we did,” Hewitt said. “I thought we had decent looks. They were shots that he hit most of the time. They just weren’t going in. Our shooting percentage was terrible.”
The Buccaneers pressed with modest success during the second half, forcing turnovers that helped them claw as close as seven points with 3 minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Grand Haven then missed five consecutive 3s and managed only one layup from guard Sean Steffel the rest of the game. Steffel and forward Ty VanWieren topped the Buccaneers with nine points apiece.
Grand Haven finished with a season-low in points.
“It wasn’t pretty, but we did enough,” VanFossan said. “We made enough free throws down the stretch. We’re going to have to be a lot better on Friday.”
The Panthers made Grand Haven pay for its gamble to be more aggressive on defense.
“When you press, you can give up some easy baskets,” Hewitt said. “That’s kind of the catch-22. You extend or stay back. They’re not going to attack if you stay back.”