5 things to watch this weekend

Duncan MacLean • Jan 3, 2018 at 11:55 PM

With winter weather providing a rapidly growing excuse to stay indoors, winter athletes are providing compelling reasons to venture into the tundra this weekend. With hoops, wrestling, swimming and hockey locked into impactful matchups, there is plenty of competition to keep the town warm Friday and Saturday.

Here are five weekend events you don’t want to miss.

SL hoops vs. Grand Rapids Catholic Central

When: Friday, girls varsity 6 p.m., boys varsity 7 p.m.

Where: Spring Lake Fieldhouse

Spring Lake kicks off their O-K Blue Conference season Friday as Grand Rapids Catholic Central comes to town representing the defending conference champions in both matchups.

The boys game will be high-energy as the Lakers got the best of the Cougars in the regional finals last season after Catholic Central took both regular season victories.

Michigan State commit Marcus Bingham Jr. will have his hands full with Spring Lake’s dominant post game in what promises to be a physical, emotional matchup.

On the girls’ side, the Cougars and Lakers have taken on difficult non-conference schedules with Catholic Central emerging 2-5 and Spring Lake finishing 2-4. The Cougars grabbed wins over Mona Shores and Benton Harbor, with losses to Muskegon, Covenant Christian, Northview, Rockford and Grand Rapids Christian. Meanwhile, the Lakers took wins over Fruitport and Shelby, with losses to Ottawa Hills, Caledonia, Rockford and Reeths-Puffer.

Catholic Central took both regular-season meetings by large margins last season. With a more balanced team and some tough games under their belt, expect Spring Lake to seek revenge.

GH hoops vs. East Kentwood (Bucs pride night)

When: Friday, girls varsity 6 p.m., boys varsity 7 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven Fieldhouse

The O-K Red Conference season kicks off for the Buccaneers against the Falcons on Friday night with boys boys and girls teams sitting at 6-1 overall.

Greg Immink’s boys team is riding a hot streak since falling to Spring Lake in double overtime on Dec. 15, winning five straight contests. Their most recent victory came in high-flying fashion over Reeths-Puffer, 69-43. East Kentwood on the other hand is riding a three-game losing streak and also took on the Rockets in their last contest, falling by three points.

After opening the season on a five-game winning streak before a loss to Ann Arbor Huron on Dec. 29, the Grand Haven girls team also defeated Reeths-Puffer in their last contest. The Bucs put together what Coach Kowalczyk-Fulmer called an uninspired performance, saying, “If we play like that against East Kentwood, we won’t stand a chance.”

The Falcons swoop in as the defending conference champions carrying an 8-0 record thus far this season, beating their opponents by an average of 26.25 points.

Regardless of how the games go, it will be a meaningful night at Grand Haven as the basketball teams celebrate their Bucs Pride Night, raising money for cancer research, treatment and support systems.

GH/SL hockey @ GR West Catholic

When: Friday, 8 p.m.

Where: Griff’s Ice House

The Grand Haven/Spring Lake co-op hockey team sits atop Tier 3 of the O-K Conference and will look to defend that spot Friday night against a charging West Catholic team. The Falcons have won four straight to bring an 8-3 record into Friday’s matchup and sit just behind the Bucs in the Tier 3 standings, tied for second at 2-1 in league play.

A big part of the charge toward the top of the conference is West Catholic forward Avery Matthews, who leads all three tiers in points so far this season with 24 on 11 goals and 13 assists.

Adam Provencal Invite

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: Grand Haven Fieldhouse

The Grand Haven grapplers are set to host their annual invitational honoring Grand Haven soccer and wrestling standout Adam Provencal. The event has become one of the premier midseason invitational in the state, with top-level competition from across West Michigan coming to town.

The Bucs are enjoying a balanced lineup so far this season, with a slew of talented newcomers and two returning state qualifiers among their strong senior class. They hope to continue their early success against a strong field Saturday, featuring Big Rapids, Brighton, Grand Rapids Christian, Comstock Park, Edwardsburg, Forest Hills Eastern, Forest Hills Northern, Fruitport, Hart, Manistee, Northwest, Pine River Area, Portage Northern, Shelby, Sparta, Thornapple Kellogg and Zeeland West.

Spring Lake swim Invitational

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: Spring Lake Aquatic Center

The Spring Lake swim and dive team started off the 2017-18 season in ballistic fashion. After breaking seven school records over the course of last season, they have felled five so far this year.

Despite their unadulterated speed, victories have been hard to come by for the Lakers with limited roster numbers causing depth problems. However, their top-heavy team is favored in invitational-style scoring. After a second-place finish at Jenison’s Wildcat Invitational last week and looking at a fresh chance at some of their own pool records, the Lakers will be primed to take top-honors at home. Northview, Ludington, Fremont, Mona Shores and Manistee will all be in attendance Saturday.

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