There may be nothing sweeter for the Spring Lake boys’ basketball team than to knock off the two-time defending league champions on their home court.
The Lakers did just that Monday evening, but to add to the special occasion, the 55-46 victory over bitter rival Fremont also clinched the Lakes Eight Conference championship for Spring Lake — its first league title since 2007.
Spring Lake (14-2, 10- Lakes Eight) now has a three-game lead over the Packers with two conference games remaining.
“We can breathe a little bit now,” said Spring Lake coach Bill Core. “It’s been a crazy week with all the make-up games we’ve had, so now, we can take a step back and relax a little. The pressure is off.
“This senior class has worked so hard to get to this point,” Core added. “And (this championship) shows that hard work pays off.”
Spring Lake expected a hard-fought battle from the Packers and the Lakers received it, as their nine-point lead in the fourth quarter was whittled down to three with 1 ½ minutes remaining by the host Packers.
But a strength of the Lakers this season has been their free throw shooting and they showcased it again on Monday.
“We’ve got a good closer in Austin Johnson and he stepped up his game in the fourth,” Core said.
Johnson, the Lakers’ senior forward who could earn all-state honors in Class B this season, scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth, aided by a 7-of-8 effort from the foul line. Point guard Adam Clauss also connected on a pair of huge free throws with under a minute to play, while sophomore Kyle Zietlow split a pair, helping the Lakers secure the win.
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