5 Things to watch this week

Tribune Staff • Dec 19, 2017 at 12:21 AM

Christmas is right around the corner. By now, you're probably engulfed in the holiday spirit and looking forward to spending time with family and friends.

Before the Christmas break arrives, however, there's still plenty of important matchups on the prep sports calendar.

This week features a few potential postseason matchups, some old school rivalries and some pivotal contests that could make or break a team's season. It might only be December, but the results from this week could be felt come March, as well.

Here's a look at five events you won't want to miss:

Grand Haven boys basketball vs. Muskegon

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven Fieldhouse

The Grand Haven boys basketball team won't have to wait long to get the taste of Friday's double-overtime loss to Spring Lake out of their mouths. The Buccaneers quickly shift their focus to a local rival that has had their number as of late in the Muskegon Big Reds.

Muskegon narrowly defeated Grand Haven 45-37 in the regular season last winter, but flexed their muscles in the postseason, as they cruised past the Bucs 70-43 in the Class A district finals.

Grand Haven has lost 10 straight to the Big Reds dating back to Jan. 6, 2012, a 55-50 win for the Bucs. A win over Muskegon would be a much-needed confidence boost for the young squad, but it won't come easily.

The Big Reds boasts plenty of talented playmakers, headlined by guard Edriese Jenkins. Muskegon's roster also features plenty of football players from the Division 3 state title team, including Clinton Jefferson, Willie Shanks, DeAndre Carter and Billie Roberts.

Grand Haven hockey vs. Kenowa Hills

When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Lakeshore Sports Center

The Grand Haven and Spring Lake co-op hockey team have been on a tear following a slow start to the season. The Buccaneers have won five straight since Nov. 25 and will look to add another “W” to the schedule as conference foe Kenowa Hills comes to town.

Trevor Kalis and Austin Fox led the Bucs (5-2-1) with 14 points each on the season, while Ethan Pennington, Cooper Fox and Kyle Eveland each have nine.

The balanced scoring attack will be on full display against a Knights squad that is rebuilding with young talent. Kenowa Hills currently sits at 1-5 on the season and will be hoping to score a road upset and turn their season around.

Grand Haven boys swimming vs. Spring Lake

When: Thursday, 6 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven Aquatic Center

The Grand Haven and Spring Lake boys swim teams rarely get to meet in a one-on-one setting. The Division 1 Buccaneers won't see the Division 3 Lakers at regionals or the state meet, but could score bragging rights over a talented Spring Lake group that is coming off a record-setting performance last week.

The Lakers broke six pool records and two varsity records in their 103-83 home loss to Forest Hills last Tuesday and will be looking to threaten a few more records at the Grand Haven Aquatic Center.

Spring Lake is led by sophomore Joey Wachter, senior Will Brown, sophomore K.J. Losee and junior Cam Peel. Those four athletes comprise the 200-yard medley relay team for the Lakers, which will have its hands full with their opponents from Grand Haven.

The Bucs' 200 medley relay team is coming off a state-qualifying cut at the West Michigan Relays on Saturday, scoring a time of 1 minute, 28.72 seconds. Every event in this matchup is sure to have some impressive times and narrow finishes. For a December non-conference swim meet, it doesn't get much more entertaining than this one.

Fruitport girls hoops at Western Michigan Christian

When: Friday, 5:30 p.m.

Where: Western Michigan Christian High School

The Fruitport and Western Michigan Christian girls basketball programs are both looking to replace staples of their program from a year ago.

The Warriors have found a new identity with the strong post play of All-State center Aubrey Goorman paired with the rebounding prowess of forward Anna Sytsema and scrappy guard play of Madison Heiss. WMC currently sits at 4-1 on the young season and will be looking to end the calendar year with a non-conference home win over a pesky Trojans squad.

On the inverse, Fruitport has recorded a 1-4 record so far this season. The young, inexperienced squad has struggled to find consistent offensive production in most contests but continues to play strong defensively.

If the Trojans can slow the game down and limit the interior play of the Warriors, they could be in a position to steal a road win and turn their season around before the conference season starts.

Spring Lake basketball doubleheader vs. Reeths-Puffer

When: Friday, 6 and 7:30 p.m.

Where: Spring Lake High School

The Spring Lake boys and girls basketball teams will host Reeths-Puffer on Friday in what will serve as a chance for both squads to continue their winning ways and build momentum into the new year.

For the Spring Lake boys squad, it'll be the third straight game against a Class A opponent. The Lakers are coming off an overtime win over Rockford last Tuesday and a double-overtime road win over Grand Haven on Friday and are brimming with confidence.

The senior trio of center Sam Johnson and forwards Griffin Lorimer and Jack VanWingen will lead the Laker attack after all three players scored double-digit points against Grand Haven.

After a 3-17 season last year, the Rockets are off to a 2-1 start to the season, including back-to-back victories over Ludington (52-44) and Greenville (62-50). The Lakers defeated Reeths-Puffer 68-39 last winter, but such a lopsided victory might not be a foregone conclusion this time around.

For the Spring Lake girls, a rivalry game blowout win over Fruitport helped turn the tide on a tough start for the squad. A challenging non-conference schedule has the Lakers sitting at 1-3 so far this winter, but the team has improved with each outing.

The Lakers will look to add some more positive momentum to their turnaround with a win over a Rockets squad this rebuilding after losing a large senior class from last year's team. The Rockets currently sit at 1-2 on the year but are coming off a 50-45 win over Ludington last week.

In a battle of two teams looking to turn things around in time for the new year, look for both the Lakers and Rockets to leave it all on the court.

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