Caledonia assailed the Grand Haven boys basketball team for an O-K Red Conference dual, heading home in the snow with a 65-52 defeat at the hands of the Bucs.
Grand Haven trailed 14-12 at the first break before adjusting on defense and marching ahead to lead 29-20 at halftime and 49-30 heading into the final frame.
“We were slow there for a couple of minutes, but we learned from our mistakes early and were much better for it,” said Grand Haven head coach Greg Immink. “I thought it was one of our better, more complete games tonight.
“We were able to score at a higher rate tonight, and I was happy with that. I thought we pushed in transition well and rebounded the ball really well, which gave us some opportunities to run. (I was) Very pleased with the effort.”
Casey Constant led the Bucs with 16 points, ahead of Bryce Taylor with 10, Owen Ross with nine and Adam Strom with eight, marking a balanced effort from the Grand Haven roster.
“The scorebook looks like that when the ball moves,” Immink said. “We had good balance throughout.
Despite leading his team, Constant didn’t get to enjoy the postgame glow, as he was curiously ejected with less than a minute left on the clock for an apparent double technical foul in transition.
The five free throws awarded to Caledonia helped in closing the gap late, while the ejection on Constant forces the Bucs’ leading scorer to sit out their next contest, much to the chagrin of Immink.
“I don’t think anybody knows exactly what happened there,” Immink said. “I think the officials are still sorting it out. I don’t know what was said, I don’t know what was called, I don’t know why he was thrown out. It was interesting.”
After having to overcome a 15-point deficit in their last outing, an early deficit was worrying for the Bucs as Caledonia’s offense got off to a hot start.
Grand Haven opened the game with a missed 3-point attempt, which Caledonia took the length of the court for a drive to the hoop to open up the scoring. Jon Elias came back to hit a 3-pointer to get the Bucs on the board, followed by another Caledonia drive to the hoop.
After establishing the drive, the Scots took to the outside, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to push the lead up to 10-5 with five minutes left in the quarter.
The Bucs cleaned things up down the stretch with free throws by Constant, a midrange basket by Taylor and a slick move in the post by Strom to close the gap back to two points at the quarter break.
Grand Haven hit the floor for the second quarter reinvigorated on both ends of the court. Drew Sinke kicked off a 15-4 run for the Bucs with a 3-pointer, followed by a coast-to-coast three-point play by Constant. The Scots picked up their only points during the run from the free-throw line.
“We weren’t getting out to the players we needed to early,” Immink said of the start. “We were giving up driving lanes we didn’t need to and weren’t getting out to the three-point line, thus the slow start.
“The adjustment was just to get out and get your hand up. We just weren’t doing it early. We knew they had good shooters, who could hit from outside, we just didn’t get out to them. We started to and things were much better after that.”
The run continued in the second half, as the Bucs outscored Caledonia 13-3, including seven straight points from Ross, to grab their biggest lead of the night, 40-21.
Trevor Holleman would hit a shot at the buzzer to push Grand Haven’s lead back to 49-30, heading into the fourth.
The Scots spent the first half of the fourth quarter chipping away at the lead against the Grand Haven reserves, eventually working things down to 56-45 with 1:30 left to play. The margin was thin enough to get the starters back on the floor, allowing for the technical fiasco with Constant.
Constant was checking the Caledonia ball carrier as they brought possession over the halfcourt line when one of the two was called for a push. The exact foul call was not made apparent. After the foul, the ball carrier took offense and shoved Constant, who took a step toward his assailant before turning around and walking away from the play, at which point he was awarded a technical and ejected. Constant had not been given another technical before the incident.
Caledonia’s point guard was awarded five free throws for the incident, of which he made four, closing the Grand Haven lead to its lowest in the second half. The ejection means Constant must sit out the entirety of the Bucs’ next contest, which comes Friday against East Kentwood.
Caledonia spent the remaining minutes fouling, while the Bucs tried to run out the clock. They eventually succeeded, earning their eighth victory of the season and third in conference play. Caledonia falls to 4-7 overall and 0-4 in league games.
Grand Haven now turns its attention to Friday’s home matchup with East Kentwood. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Junior varsity: Grand Haven defeated Caledonia, 53-41. Landon Vanbeek scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Bucs, while Logan Miller added eight points and Logan Melcher had six points.
Freshmen: Grand Haven defeated Caledonia, 56-54. Tucker Kooi led the way with 14 points, while Charlie Gretzinger and Bashir Neely each scored 13 points. The Bucs are now 8-2 overall and 4-0 in the O-K Red.