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Lakers hot and cold in Lakeshore cup finale

Duncan MacLean • Dec 29, 2018 at 5:45 PM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — The Spring Lake boys basketball team fell to 0-2 in their 2018 Lakeshore Cup experience this afternoon with a 60-53 loss to Traverse City West.

A slow start doomed the Lakes to play from behind, but a hot second quarter put them within striking distance at halftime, down just five. Their renewed offensive prowess continued in the third, but came to an abrupt halt in the fourth, as they netted just four points to fade to the buzzer.

Kyle Wiersma led the Lakers with 12 points, followed by Cayden Ball with 10, Sam Negen with eight, Noah Verlinde with seven, Grant Kieft with six and Zach Foster and Lucas Lyyski with five apiece.

Despite tough work by Verlinde and company down low, the Lakers were once again outmatched in the post. After scoring just one point Friday night against the taller Grand Haven lineup, Traverse City West’s Pierson Szczepanski put up 21 against the outsized Lakers.

In addition to their power advantage in the paint, the Titans were able to spread the floor with sharp outside shooting, burying eight 3-pointers over the course of the game.

GAMETRACK

Hot shooting early by the Titans put Spring Lake behind early, as Andy Soma nailed four 3-pointers in the opening quarter. Kyle Wiersma hit a long ball for the Lakers to get things moving, but they couldn’t slow down a persistent Traverse City attack.

A putback by Lukas Lyyski at the buzzer kept the lead to single digits, as the Lakers trailed 19-10.

Momentum shifted in the second quarter as shots started to fall. The Titans scored the first six points in the period before Kieft entered the game and sparked the immediate heat from distance, nailing back-to-back 3-pointers. The triples seemed to relax the rest of the lineup, who followed suit.

Ball earned a 2-for-2 trip to the free throw line, followed by a gutsy offensive rebound and put back for Negen on the next possession, forcing a Titan timeout leading 24-20 with 5:16 left in the half.

The Lakers continued to battle, eventually closing the game to two points, 28-26 with 3:20 to play. The final minutes of the half swung back to Traverse City as pressure in transition forced a few turnovers and a technical foul on Spring Lake head coach Bill Core awarded two free points. A big 3-pointer by Wiersma on the final possession kept the Lakers within five points heading into the locker room.

It is the first time in their last four outings the Lakers trailed by single digits at halftime.

The Titans hit the second half firing, jumping back out to a 10-point lead in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Five straight points by Ball kept the Lakers relevant, while a three-pointer by Lyyski brought them back within six.

Buckets from Keyser on each of the final two Spring Lake possessions closed the game back to three points, 52-49, heading into the final frame.

There, a defensive battle ensued. Neither team scored until 2:48 left in the game when Traverse City hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull away.

Negen converted 4-of-4 free throws for the Lakers only points of the quarter, as the Titans defense picked up and Spring Lake’s shooting went cold down the stretch.

The loss drops the Lakers to 2-4 on the year after a tough four-game stretch featuring Rockford, Grand Haven, Petoskey and the Titans. They will return in 2019 to take on the O-K Blue Conference schedule.

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