Grand Haven junior Taylor Craymer swished a 3-pointer on the Buccaneers’ first possession of the game, and the Bucs never looked back as they cruised to a crucial 55-35 victory over Rockford.
The Bucs, now 16-0 on the season, improve to 7-0 in O-K Red Conference games. The Rams entered the game just a game back in the league standings but fall to 5-2 in O-K Red play and 10-5 overall.
The Bucs led 28-17 at halftime, and their outstanding defense kept Rockford from ever getting closer than nine the rest of the way. Rockford shot just 23 percent from the floor.
“We moved our feet, and we rebounded fairly well,” Bucs’ coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “I’m pretty happy to come over here and win by 20, because that’s a good team.”
Rockford’s Mary Gipson hit a 3-pointer with 5:43 remaining, drawing her team to within nine points at 40-31. Grand Haven closed the game on a 15-4 run.
Abby Cole, the Bucs’ 6-foot-5 senior center, dominated the post against a much smaller Rockford team, finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Craymer added 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists for the Bucs. Hannah Wilkerson scored eight points and dished off four assists, while Amanda Merz grabbed seven rebounds and scored seven points.
“Abby definitely made her presence felt,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “She shot the ball pretty well, going 8-for-12 with some elbow jumpers. She showed her range. Most teams don’t have an answer for her.
“Hannah also had a good game. She took the ball to the rim a couple times when we really needed a bucket.”
Kowalczyk-Fulmer credited Merz with coming up big in the second quarter, when the Bucs were looking for a spark.
“We were up 13-10 going into the second quarter, and we were struggling a little bit,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “Merz did a nice job finding the seams against their 2-3 zone and hit a couple runners in the paint.”
The Rams were able to hang around in the first half in part because the Bucs didn’t take care of the basketball, turning the ball over nine times.
“We were playing passive trying to lob passes to each other, and they’re too athletic to do that against,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “We did a better job in second half faking a pass, making a good pass, and we did a good job getting the ball to the baseline side and getting the ball into Abby for some easy buckets.”
Sophomore Logan McCane led the Rams with 16 points.
Grand Haven faces a tough pair of games next week. The Bucs host Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Tuesday, then host Grandville next Friday