West Ottawa’s girls basketball team invaded Grand Haven’s gym Friday night hoping to make a statement.
The Panthers did just that with a convincing 37-23 victory over the two-time defending state champion Buccaneers.
“It feels good,” said Panthers’ coach Jenna Plewes after the victory, which boosts her team to 3-0 in O-K Red Conference play. “We knew going in that they would be a good team. They won state the last two years, but Abby (Cole) isn’t there, and our girls were exciting knowing that she wouldn’t be in there for them.”
The Panthers set the tone early with their outstanding defense and 3-point shooting. Grand Haven’s leading scorer on the season, 6-foot-1 senior Taylor Craymer, scored the first four points of the game, but the Panthers switched things up on defense, putting 6-2 senior Molly Borgman on Craymer, then sending help inside whenever the Bucs tried to throw the ball into the post. Most of those passes resulted in turnovers as the Bucs simply couldn’t get the ball inside.
Add in an 0-for-7 showing from the 3-point line and things couldn’t have gone much worse offensively for the Bucs, who trailed 11-6 at the end of the first quarter and 18-8 at the half.
“I really felt we lost it in the first quarter,” said Buccaneers’ coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer, whose team falls to 9-3 overall and 1-2 in O-K Red play. “All we talked about is if we came out with a sense of urgency on defense, we’d be OK, but that wasn’t there. Our defense wasn’t good enough, and we turned the ball over four of our first six possessions.
“The bottom line is, they outplayed us on both ends of the court.”
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