Mar. 6—GRAND HAVEN TWP. — Blink and you'll miss it.
At the start of the week, Grand Haven's boys were tied atop the O-K Red with five home games to play in the second half of their schedule.
Two games and two losses later, the Buccaneers are left looking up at the conference leaders following a 57-46 loss to West Ottawa on Friday night.
"We just got a little out of sorts, and West Ottawa deserves some credit for knocking down shots," Grand Haven coach Greg Immink said. "They did a really good job late on of controlling the ball and not giving away possession."
The game's defining moments came in the second quarter, where stifling West Ottawa defense held the Bucs to just two points while junior Brady Bosma and senior Kegan Garcia pushed the Panthers into a double-digit halftime lead.
"I think they're simple fixes we can make," junior Owen Worthington said. "We've just got to get back on the path a little bit, we have three next games next week and we have to focus."
In the first quarter, the two teams traded the lead during the most even moments of the game. Bashir Neely hit a pair of jumpers for Grand Haven, and Landon VanBeek's layup gave the Bucs a 13-10 lead.
From there, a Colin Shriver layup and a Brady Bosma 3-pointer gave West Ottawa a lead they would hold the rest of the game. Neely and Stump picked up their second fouls late in the quarter, and Immink had to be judicious with their playing time in the rest of the half.
Good play on both ends from West Ottawa in the second quarter gave them a 28-15 lead at half, with both teams struggling to find good shots. A Garcia offensive rebound and basket with 2:40 left in the half were the final points as the Bucs couldn't get their shots to fall.
"We're the same team we were a week ago," Immink said. "Sure, the records change, but if we've learned anything it's that there's a few areas that we need to get better at."
Grand Haven's response after the intermission was a necessary one. Stump and Neely combined for eight straight points before Harrison Sorrelle's layup made it a five-point game. West Ottawa's Kobe Haglund responded with a 3-pointer, but a Stump triple and Owen Worthington's transition layup cut the Panther lead to 33-30 with 2:30 left in the quarter.
That was as tight as the margin would get. Haglund hit another 3 before finding Shriver for a layup, and the West Ottawa lead was back to eight. Stump appeared to be fouled as the buzzer sounded, but the no-call left Grand Haven flabbergasted and down three possessions heading into the fourth quarter.
Another Haglund 3-pointer connected with 6:20 to play, effectively sealing the game. The closing moments didn't feature the same levels of frustration shown against Caledonia earlier in the week, but the Bucs will have to search for cures to an off-balance night.
"We lacked communication a little bit," Worthington said. "We know we can get back to the level we were at, it's nothing we can't fix because we've done it before."
Stump led the Bucs with nine points, with Worthington adding eight. Sorrelle and VanBeek both finished with seven. West Ottawa had three players in double figures: Brady Bosma's 13 to lead all scorers with Haglund and Shriver each adding 12.
West Ottawa will travel to Zeeland West on Saturday afternoon before a Tuesday contest at home against Caledonia. Grand Haven has the weekend off before hosting Jenison on Tuesday night. The Bucs' matchup with league leaders Rockford will come on Thursday.