Smooth skating

Duncan MacLean • Dec 29, 2018 at 12:50 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — Who knew Buccaneers loved the holidays?

The Grand Haven boys basketball team celebrated their Christmas break with a resounding win over Traverse City West in Friday night’s opening round of the Lakeshore Cup.

Filling the primetime, 7:30 p.m. timeslot, the Bucs made it clear a little rest and relaxation never hurt anybody, as they cruised to a 47-34 victory over the visiting Titans.

“We had some days off, but we had a couple good days of practice before today to put us in a good situation,” said Grand Haven head coach Greg Immink. “When our guys choose to want to give the extra effort, we can do that and we play much better basketball.”

Out of the gate, though, it looked like the Bucs might still be on break. A quick 8-2 lead for the visitors drained the spirit from the gym quickly, but Grand Haven responded with a defensive dial-up, shutting out the Titans for the rest of the quarter to end with a 9-8 lead.

In the second, Casey Constant took over, scoring eight of his team-high 15 points to buoy a 23-16 halftime lead.

Everything fell into place in the third. After neither team scored through the first two minutes of the second half, Drew Sinke sunk back-to-back 3-pointers to jumpstart the Bucs’ offense. Constant followed suit with a 3-pointer of his own to make it a 9-0 start for Grand Haven, as they went on to outscore the Titans 17-7 in the third.

Traverse City West managed their only double-digit quarter in the fourth, bringing the game to its final tally.

“After the kind of rough start, our defensive intensity really picked up,” Immink said. “We went back to man to man and we slowed them down for the remainder of the half, and that carried into the second half, as well. Our defense was really, really good today.”

Grand Haven’s lockdown defense fed their offense for the duration of the game, as steals made easy buckets, blocks kicked off quick transitions and rebounds became putbacks.

Beyond their transition game, much of the Bucs’ offense flowed through the post as Adam Strom, Owen Ross and Jon Elias all saw good production down low.

Constant led the Bucs with 15 points, ahead of Adam Strom and Owen Worthington with seven each, and Sinke and Owen Ross with six each.

While Constant picked up most of his points with drives and floaters, and Strom and Ross operated in the paint, outside shooting from Sinke was a big plus for Immink in Friday night’s game and remains a so-far untapped strength for the Bucs moving forward.

“Outside shooting is something we have struggled to find so far this year,” Immink said. “We had some consistent shooting tonight and if we can continue that we have a chance to really improve.”

The win puts Grand Haven in position to defend their Lakeshore Cup title from last year. They will take on Traverse City St. Francis in the final game of the evening today at 6 p.m.

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