Grand Haven Tribune: Lakers inaccurate in loss to Coopersville
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Lakers inaccurate in loss to Coopersville

Tribune Staff • Jan 12, 2019 at 12:08 AM

Errant passes and missed shots defined a tough game for the Spring Lake boys basketball team, as they traveled to Coopersville on Friday night for an O-K Blue Conference matchup.

A tight first quarter shook out to a 9-9 tie at the first break before the bottom fell out of the Spring Lake offense. They would miss 15 shots in a row in the second quarter, falling behind 25-16 by halftime.

It was a totally different effort in the third from Spring Lake as they closed the gap to 39-35 heading into the final frame. The fourth was all Broncos, as they pulled away for a 60-47 win.

“All the credit to Coopersville. They played well,” said Spring Lake head coach Bill Core. “I was disappointed in how we handled their pressure defense. They really had us on our heels for a lot of the game.

“I was impressed with the way we came back, but they just played well down the stretch to seal it.”

That pressure came in the form of a five-man full court press, fleecing the Lakers for 22 turnovers over the course of the game. When they did get the ball into their offensive end, shots were rushed, resulting in a tough shooting night at 18-for-49 overall.

“A lot of that was their pressure defense,” Core said of the shooting. “We weren’t able to get comfortable in our offense. It seemed like we were rushing our shots just a hair. We couldn’t buy a bucket in some of those quarters. We’re still looking for that consistency.”

After co-captains Sam Negen and Kyle Wiersma combined for 39 points against Allendale on Tuesday, their totals came crashing back to earth Friday, as no Spring Lake players broke into double digits.

Cayden Ball led the way with nine points, followed by Grant Kieft with eight, Noah Verlinde at seven, Zach Keyser with six, Sam Negen with five and Lucas Lyyski with four.

Nathan Castenholz led Coopersville with a ballistic night from the 3-point line, hitting five from distance to buoy his 16 total points, followed by Blake Stewart with 14.

“We weren’t counting on their guards to hit seven 3-pointers and score a bunch of points,” Core said. “We were focusing on other guys like (Vaughan) VanTill. So, credit to those guys, we weren’t planning on that.”

A bright spot for the Lakers came on the glass, as they won the rebounding total 35-21, including 14 offensive boards, though they had trouble converting those rebounds to points.

“We had 14 offensive rebounds, but couldn’t capitalize on them,” Core said. “It seemed like we couldn’t put anything through the hoop, even the close ones.

The game began messily for both teams with early turnovers and fouls piling up quick. Verlinde struck first, finishing a three-point play from the free throw line to get the scoring going. Coopersville answered with one of their own to tie the game at 3-3.

Kieft started hot, knocking down a 3-pointer to take a 6-3 lead. Two straight buckets gave Coopersville the lead until the beginning of the final period.

Verlinde netted another drive to push his first-quarter point total to five, just before the Lakers committed their fifth turnover of the opening quarter.

By the end of the first quarter, Coopersville’s pressure had forced seven Spring Lake turnovers and allowed just three players to score. Despite the offensive trouble, the game sat tied 9-9.

Things unraveled in the second quarter for the Lakers. After two made free throws by Ball, Spring Lake would miss 15 straight shots, not scoring again until the three-minute mark on a Lyyski drive. A bucket by Zach Foster in the final minute would cut the deficit to nine at halftime, thanks to solid Spring Lake defense.

The Laker offense surged back in the third quarter, starting with a Verlinde drive to the hoop and a Ball 3-pointer. A three-point play by Keyser and a midrange jumper by Kyle Garrison kept things rolling as the Lakers finally nailed down a press-break strategy.

Kyle Wiersma would hit his first basket of the game from distance at the end of the quarter to cut the lead to one point, answered by a Coopersville 3-pointer at the buzzer to put it back to four points, 39-35.

Kieft stayed hot to start the fourth, nailing a 3-pointer followed by another Keyser three-point play to take the lead back for the first time since the opening quarter, 40-39.

The offensive resurgence was short lived, as the Broncos dialed up their pressure down the stretch. A few missed passes led to Coopersville points, putting the Lakers down by four entering crunch time. Spring Lake elected to play the foul game, but the Broncos were sharp from the free-throw line, while the Lakers faltered from the floor, leading to the lopsided finish.

The loss drops Spring Lake to 3-6 overall and 1-2 in O-K Blue play, while Coopersville improves to 4-5 overall and 1-0 in conference.

Spring Lake returns to action Tuesday as they visit Comstock Park.

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