PARK TWP. — West Ottawa sophomore Molly Borski said the Panthers, which feature a smaller lineup this season, do their best to compensate for their lack of height.
“We’re used to being small,” Borski said. “This is a small team this year and we work really hard, which helps to fight back against the height, but it was pretty tough.”
Despite the Panthers’ best efforts, Grand Haven defeated the Panthers 41-33 on Friday.
“I think it started with Caydee Constant up top, she was scrappy all night long,” Houle said. “I think our defense kept us going and our bigs hit some shots, Zoe Spoelman really stepped up big for us.”
The Buccaneers took a 17-13 after a low-scoring first half and pulled away in the second half thanks to a 5-0 run to start the fourth quarter.
“We did not start out well,” Panthers coach Paul Chapman said. “We’re disappointed with the way we played, especially in the first half. We turned the ball over unnecessarily, we missed some shots — you've got to credit them and their height.
“I don’t have an explanation why we started out like we did. We seemed really tentative, didn't shoot the ball particularly well and just some uncommon turnovers.”
Bucs’ 6-foot-2 sophomore center Zoe Spoelman shot seven-for-eight field goals and gave the Panthers problems on the inside.
“Defensively, we did a great job,” Chapman said. “The one girl that got away from us was the post player (Spoelman), she played really well. She was really solid in there, shot a high percentage. She really took it to us on the inside.”
The Bucs led 26-20 by the end of the third quarter. West Ottawa got some shots to fall in the fourth quarter but the deficit proved to much to overcome.
“I think we worked really hard in practice and really prepared for this game, but I think we need to slow down as a team better and reduce our turnovers,” Borski said.
Bucs senior and former Zeeland West player Jolee Houle added six points for the Bucs. She has enjoyed being a part of the Grand Haven program.
“It’s been awesome,” Houle said. “Honestly, it’s probably been the best two years of basketball, everything. Coach (Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer), love her to death. She’s done great things for me and I can’t thank her enough. It’s been awesome here.”
Alyssa Karner had 16 points for the Panthers and Borski added nine. Molly Long had eight points for the Bucs.