With a chance for an undefeated 20-0 season on the line, Grand Haven’s varsity girls basketball team got off to a shaky start.
The Buccaneers, playing without their Miss Basketball candidate Abby Cole, trialed the Eagles 12-6 after one quarter of play on Friday.
But a season-high seven 3-pointers by the Bucs and a great effort on defense was enough to lift the defending state champions to a 45-31 win.
“We came out and right away they were packing it in, and they’re a really big team,” said Grand Haven coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer, whose team finishes at 20-0 overall and 10-0 in O-K Red conference play. “They start 6-3, 6-2, so we weren’t getting real good looks in the paint. It was real evident their game-plan was to pack it in and make us beat them from the outside, so we did.”
Taylor Craymer hit a 3-pointer late in the first quarter, then buried two more triples in the second. Craymer and Amanda Merz buried back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 12-all, then she and Grace Kendra splashed triples to put the visiting Bucs on top 22-17.
Their lead grew to 12 on Hannah Wilkerson’s 3-pointer late in the third, then Kendra hit a long bomb at the buzzer to put the Bucs on top 38-23.
“We don’t tend to live and die from 3-point land, but tonight, they’re a bigger team, so we spread the floor, and credit our kids, they knocked down some shots,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said.
Craymer finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists for the Bucs, who ran their winning streak to 43 games over the past two seasons. Wilkerson added 12 points, while Kendra had her best game of the season with 10 points.
Cole, the Bucs' leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, missed the game to attend tryouts for the USA Volleyball Junior National team in Colorado.
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