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5 Things to Watch this Week

Tribune Staff • Dec 10, 2018 at 4:00 AM

The majority of the local winter sports teams have shaken off the rust, embraced their new challenges and competed against high-quality competition this past week, setting up for some intriguing matchups this week.

Rivalry matchups and early season clashes highlight this week's slate of games. The Drawbridge Classic returns to Spring Lake on Friday, while the Grand Haven-Spring Lake co-op hockey team hosts a weekend doubleheader.

Meanwhile, local swim and dive teams look to capitalize on fresh athletes and the Grand Haven wrestling program will host a loaded invitational tournament Saturday.

Here are five contests coming up this week that you don't want to miss.

Grand Haven swim vs. Holland Christian

When: Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven Aquatic Center

The Grand Haven boys swim and dive team will take their first plunge into the waters of the 2018 winter season with a meet against Holland Christian on Thursday. The Buccaneers are replacing a lot of experience from last year's squad that finished 11th at a loaded Division 1 state meet, but the program is still optimistic that the returning athletes, combined with some fresh faces, will push the squad to contention this season.

A fast start to the season will be critical for the Bucs, as they take on the West Michigan Relays this weekend at Holland, followed by a road meet against rival Spring Lake on Dec. 22. Grand Haven jumps directly into the O-K Red Conference with a showdown with Rockford Rams on Jan. 10 at home.

Grand Haven girls basketball vs. Mona Shores

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven Fieldhouse

The Grand Haven girls basketball team is off to an impressive 3-0 start to their season with sizable wins over Reeths-Puffer (55-30), Traverse City West (56-14) and Traverse City Central (55-23). The Buccaneers will get a chance to take center stage Thursday, as they host rival Mona Shores in what could be a playoff preview.

Senior point guard Alli Keyser runs the show for the Buccaneers, but additional playmakers are already emerging for the team early in the season. Jolee Houle has become a sharpshooter from long range, while Kelly Olthof and Esther Byington, along with Olivia McMullen and Mackenzie Gross, are forming a stable of dynamic post players to add to the mix.

Grand Haven boys basketball at Spring Lake

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Where: Spring Lake High School

The annual Drawbridge Classic pits the Grand Haven and Spring Lake boys basketball teams against each other in what has become a heated and entertaining rivalry matchup. The past two meetings have resulted in dramatic overtime outcomes, with Grand Haven stealing a double-overtime road win in 2016, followed by Spring Lake capturing a rare road victory at Grand Haven last season.

This season, the two rosters appear to be closer than ever before, with both squads replacing a lot of experienced playmakers and still searching for a collective identity. The backcourt matchup may prove to be pivotal in this year's contest, with senior guards Casey Constant and Bryce Taylor leading the Buccaneers against junior point guard Cayden Ball and senior shooting guard Bryce Taylor.

Expect a packed gym at Spring Lake High School on Friday night, as both student sections will be rocking, with bragging rights hanging in the balance.

Grand Haven Wrestling Invitational

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: Grand Haven High School

The Grand Haven wrestling program will host an early season invitational Saturday, testing themselves against some of the better programs in the area. Fruitport, Hastings, Reeths-Puffer, Battle Creek Lakeview and Mendon are scheduled to attend the event.

The Buccaneers are coming off a pair of impressive performances last week, as they swept their team duals at Holland on Wednesday, and followed that effort up with a 10th place finish at the Allegan Invitational over the weekend.

Cody Miller (125 pounds), Riley Rhone (103), Zach Boersen (135) and Trevor Rademaker (152) are just a few names to watch when Grand Haven takes the mat this weekend.

Grand Haven-Spring Lake hockey vs. Reeths-Puffer

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Lakeshore Sports Centre

The Grand Haven-Spring Lake co-op hockey team enters this weekend with a 3-3 overall record and a chance to make a few statements against conference-leading Bryon Center and local rival Reeths-Puffer in back-to-back home games Friday and Saturday night.

The Bulldogs (4-1) will travel to the Lakeshore Sports Centre on Friday at 7:30 p.m., while the Rockets (3-4) will prepare for takeoff Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Kyle Eveland and Trevor Kalis lead the Buccaneers in points on the season with seven, while Cooper Fox has added five. In net, Adien Steele holds a .898 save percentage.

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