Abby Cole grabs most of the headlines when it comes to the Grand Haven varsity girls basketball team, and rightly so.
But it’s been the emergence of junior forward Taylor Craymer over the past several weeks that has been one of the key factors in propelling the Bucs into Thursday’s Class A regional championship game against Grandville.
Craymer showed just how valuable she is to her team in Tuesday’s regional semifinal win over Gaylord.
With the smaller Blue Devils sending triple-teams at the 6-foot-5 Cole every time she caught the ball in the post, Craymer went to work. The crafty 6-1 junior consistently found the open spaces in the Gaylord zone and punished the Blue Devils to the tune of 16 points.
Scoring in double figures is nothing new for Craymer, who has been one of the Bucs’ most consistent sources of offense over the past few weeks. Her season jump-started during the Bucs’ gritty win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
With her team trailing in the fourth quarter, Craymer knocked down a few key 3-pointers and scored 13 points in a come-from-behind victory.
“I don’t really what it was, I just kind of turned it on a few weeks ago,” said Craymer, who earlier in the year was passing up good looks at the basket for even better shots by her teammate.
These days, Craymer is one of the Bucs’ go-to sources of offense. Not only can she light it up from 3-point range — she leads the Bucs with 19 3-pointers made this winter — but at 6-1, she’s extremely versatile and can easily take a smaller defender inside and score in the paint.
Craymer’s scoring average has risen to 9.5 points per game, and her 47 percent shooting from the floor shows that she’s getting good looks at the basket.
But scoring isn’t Craymer’s only attribute. She’s second in the team in rebounding at 6.8 boards per game, and also second in the squad in assists at 2.5 per contest. She’s also second on the squad with 49 steals.
Bucs’ coach Katie Kowalcyk-Fulmer has noticed a tremendous amount of growth in Craymer this season.
“She’s a great swing player, my best 3-point shooter, and she has a nice, soft touch with the ball, which helps her ability to score inside,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “She’s a great passer, and has a very high basketball IQ.
“It doesn’t surprise me that she wasn’t scoring as much early on, but as teams try to build a house around Abby, Abby finds her. Those two work well together. Give Taylor a lot of credit. She makes Abby better.”
Craymer didn’t see many minutes down the stretch during last year’s title run on a senior-heavy team.
This year, she’s much more in the spotlight.
“I try not to think about it, but I do get a little bit more nervous,” Craymer said. “I just can’t let the nerves get to me, do what I need to do to help us get the win.
“We know that we don’t want it to be over. We have a chance to go far, and we’re just clicking.”
Kowalczyk-Fulmer knows Cryamer will be a pivotal cog to her team’s tournament run.
“She can handle the ball and she’s a great passer,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said. “She’s going to be key as we make a run here with her versatility on the floor.”