Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer never had any major concerns about Taylor Craymer's lack of scoring punch early on in the season, because she saw how unselfish the Bucs' 6-foot-1 forward was with the basketball, often passing up quality shots to get her teammates better looks.
Now that it's tournament time and the stakes are higher, however, Craymer is doing what's needed -- putting the rock in the hole.
The junior scored a season-best 19 points Monday evening, sparking a red-hot 48 percent shooting night for the Bucs in their Class A district quarterfinal rout of Reeths-Puffer at Grand Haven Fieldhouse, 64-39.
The win is the first step in what the Bucs hope is a state championship title defense, although Craymer made it a point twice that they aren't looking past any team, even Wednesday's district semifinal opponent, Mona Shores. But with the way the Bucs shared and shot the basketball on Monday, the Sailors may need a miracle to upset the 21-0 powerhouse.
"That's the big thing about this team," Craymer said. "We're all very unselfish. It's like everyone clicks together like a puzzle."
Craymer drained the game's first bucket Monday, a 12-foot corner jumper and the Bucs sizzled the rest of the first quarter, hitting 55 percent of their shots, with seven different players scoring. The only problem was, Reeths-Puffer was shooting the lights out as well, as the Rockets' cousin duo of Kalisa Williams and Camaryia Williams combined to score nine points in the quarter to keep their team close.
"Coach (Kowalczyk-Fulmer) got on us about our defense," Craymer said. "She told us we needed to tie our shoes a little tighter and play with a little more hunger."
The Bucs responded, as Reeths-Puffer didn't score in the second quarter until there was just 1:41 showing on the clock. By then, the Bucs had a 32-18 lead, with Craymer dropping in five points during the second-quarter spurt.
"I started a little slow in the first, but I kept moving inside and out and my teammates were finding me for good looks," she said. "I got some energy."
"Taylor does it on both ends," Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. "She's got that ability to score in the paint or step out and hit the 3, like she did (in the second quarter). She was a little bit hesitant offensively early on, because I think she would rather find her teammates, but as the season's wore on, she's become more aggressive and is looking to take it inside and score in the paint."
Grand Haven put on a clinic in the third, as the Bucs' quick passing, strong defense and capable scoring equaled disaster for the Rockets. Craymer and senior wing Hannah Wilkerson combined to score 11 points in the Bucs' 13-0 run to open the third, and essentially, put the game away.
"We're passing the ball really well," Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. "The kids are finding each other for great looks and as a coach, that's what you like to see."
Wilkerson finished with 13 points and four assists, while Craymer also had four assists and seven rebounds.
Bucs' senior center Abby Cole, who was essentially playing on fumes after returning late on Sunday from a trip to Colorado Springs, Colo., to try out fot the USA Volleyball Junior National team, still flourished with six points, seven blocks, seven rebounds and four assists.
Point guard Amanda Merz continues to play bigger than her 5-4 frame with six points and seven rebounds, and Angie Schultz had a nice shooting performance off the bench with seven points.
Kalisa Williams paced the Rockets (12-9 overall) with 19 points, while Camaryia Williams totaled 10.
Grand Haven will tip-off against the Sailors (9-10) at 6 p.m., followed by the second semifinal of Muskegon against Cedar Springs at 8.