SPRING LAKE TWP. — Despite hanging with Caledonia for a majority of the night, Spring Lake girls basketball lost its season opener on Tuesday. The Lakers scored just 5 fourth-quarter points on their way to a 48-38 defeat.
“It takes a little while to get a picture of where we’re at,” Spring Lake head coach Rich Hyde said. “It was good to measure what we have to do tonight. We did some things that we need to fix, but I was proud of a lot of things, our attitude especially.”
There were bright spots in the Lakers’ season opener, as there were varsity debuts for sophomores Meah Bajt and Nicole Schmitt as well as a team-leading 11 points for senior guard Phoebe Saunders.
A 10-2 run midway through the third quarter was the difference-maker for the Scots, who took a 30-29 lead on a Morgan Babb 3-pointer, one they would not relinquish. Babb led all scorers with 18 points on the night.
“The score wasn’t what we were worried about,” Saunders said. “It was more about finding out who we were. We played some scrimmages a week ago and we were just finding our rhythm, so this was the first test of that. We came out and played hard, we have a good base to start off of.”
Down the stretch, the Lakers found chances to cut into the deficit throughout the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get their shots to fall.
"I don't think we got physically fatigued," Hyde said. "I went with experience at the end, but some of it was mental tiredness. We think too much right now."
The Lakers opened the game on an 8-2 run as Saunders was active at both ends. The senior made a pair of shots in the opening minutes, but sophomore starter Jennifer Judge picked up a pair of quick fouls midway through the opening quarter. The captain wouldn’t return until the start of the second half.
Caledonia took advantage from there, sinking a pair of outside shots to fight back into the game. They ended the first quarter ahead as Abby Mitchell banked in a 3-pointer to take a 14-11 lead.
The Lakers would fight back midway through the second half after Caledonia stretched their lead to six. Madalyn Lisman scored all of her 8 points in the second quarter as part of a 9-3 run.
“I liked our opportunities, we got more than we expected,” Hyde said. “We have some experience, but right now we have a lot of people getting up to speed. We learned as we went, and some old habits started kicking in.”
Caledonia held a 25-24 lead heading into the half, but started to show their quality out of the break even with Judge’s reintroduction. The fouls played their part mentally for the sophomore.
“It was definitely hard,” Judge said. The sophomore finished with one made basket from the first quarter. “I wanted to keep being energized on the bench. Coming in from halftime, I felt pretty solid. Coming back out, I wanted to focus on conserving my fouls. I had to be mindful of it and it affected things defensively.”
The Scots’ late run pushed the third-quarter lead to 38-33, and the Lakers’ struggles on offense kept them from getting back into the game. Still, there is a long ways to go after the opening night of the season.
“We moved the ball fairly well, we talked on defense well,” Saunders said. “The opportunities were there, and at some point the shots will go in. We have an idea of where we’re trying to go. It’s about learning from our mistakes and working on those in practice.”
Senior Abbi Perkins added 9 points for the Lakers, who host Fremont on Thursday.