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Five things to watch this week

Tribune Staff • Updated Jan 8, 2019 at 12:22 AM

Welcome to January, when the winter prep season hits its stride.

Local teams across the board are scheduled to take on pivotal conference matchups this week as their seasons finally reach their typical cadence. After exploring their rosters and chemistry through December and the disjointed holiday schedule, look for teams to put it all together in the coming weeks and realize their full potential.

Don’t miss these five chances to see quality prep action this week.

Spring Lake swim vs. East Grand Rapids

When: Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

Where: East Grand Rapids High School

Whether you are a diehard swim fan or just entertained by greatness, this O-K Greater Grand Rapids Swim Conference showdown is worth the trip to the big city. Two of Division 3’s premier programs are scheduled to square off at East Grand Rapids as the 2018 state championship runners-up host the third-place Lakers. Currently, the Pioneers hold the No. 2 ranking in Division 3, while Spring Lake sits at No. 5.

Spring Lake is primed to perform after a tough holiday training schedule has them firing on all cylinders. At their home invitational over the weekend, the Lakers took down a varsity record and a few pool records, an extreme rarity at this point in the season.

It will be another classic case of speed versus depth, as the Lakers have three of the best swimmers in the state, while East Grand Rapids boasts its usual signature depth, this time without a top-five performer.

Grand Haven girls basketball vs. West Ottawa

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven High School

The Grand Haven girls basketball team is on a tear to begin this season, heading into conference play with a 6-0 record, defeating their opponents by an average of 23 points per game.

West Ottawa began their season 5-0, taking their first loss of the year to Rockford at home the last time they took the court. Before the loss, they had outscored their opponents by 21.6 points.

As both teams look to find their footing in a cutthroat O-K Red Conference, the Panthers will be looking for revenge while fighting through injury concerns. Two of their starting five left the court against Rockford as Dani Kuiper suffered an ankle injury and Abby Sprick left with an arm injury. Natalie Dunn stepped up to lead the team in scoring, proving the Panthers have enough weapons to get it done should they arrive in Grand Haven healthy today.

The Bucs have been enjoying their own offensive wealth as senior guard Alli Keyser continues her historic tear alongside Jolee Houlee in the backcourt, while Anna Strom nails shots from the outside, and Esther Byington and Kelly Olthof hold things down in the paint.

WMC girls hoops at Fruitport Calvary Christian

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Fruitport Calvary Christian High School

The Bucs aren’t the only one with a marquee hoops matchup Tuesday as Western Michigan Christian and Fruitport Calvary Christian meet for Norton Shores bragging rights.

The Warriors come in as the favorite, sitting at 6-0 on the season with a few dominant performances so far. A 67-15 win over Muskegon Catholic Central, 61-12 over Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian and 55-3 over Muskegon Heights prove they don’t mess around against smaller teams. Their high scoring comes thanks to Anna Sytsema down low and the emergence of Taylor Folkema as a scoring point guard.

The Eagles’ pedigree is unquestioned but they will have a tough task keeping up with WMC. FCC dropped their first game of the year in a 47-43 loss to Mason County Central before dismantling Muskegon Heights 56-11 to kick off a four-game winning streak stretching into tonight’s matchup. Their scoring prowess comes from the always-dynamic Kelsey Richards and Lizzie Cammenga and on the legs of rebounding and defensive phenomenon Brionna Johnson.

Grand Haven swim vs. Rockford

When: Thursday, 6 p.m.

Where: Grand Haven High School

Plenty of good action in the pool for our local teams this week as the Bucs host Rockford for an O-K Red Conference clash.

Eternally rivals, this year may hold a different tone for Grand Haven as they sit above Rockford in the Division 1 state rankings. The Bucs come in at No. 13, while the Rams hold the 17th spot.

Mark Wilgenburg, Michael and Thomas MacDonald, Eli VandenBrand and company have things firing fast for the Bucs so far this season, while Rockford lacks their typical top-ranked competitors.

In their dual meet last season, Grand Haven nearly got it done, eventually falling 167-148. Their point total was buoyed by event victories from then seniors Grant Ruster and Matt Fahey, but their depth this season should make up for the loss of those two stars.

Fruitport Wrestling Legends Invitational

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: Fruitport High School

The Fruitport wrestling program is all set to host its annual Legends Invitational where they celebrate the best Trojans to grace the mat with a top-tier local invitational.

Teams from Grand Rapids Christian, Grandville, Hamilton, Kelloggsville, Ludington, Muskegon Catholic Central, Rockford, Thornapple-Kellogg and Watervliet will visit Fruitport to participate in the tournament.

The Legends Invite plays out as an individual weight class tournament, culminating in the championship rounds in the evening, typically between 4 and 5 p.m.

The Trojans have taken home runner-up honors in each of the last two invitationals, last year finishing behind Hamilton on the legs of tournament titles by then-senior Zach Sykes and Crue Cooper, who will look to lead the team once again this year.

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