Instead of folding under pressure, however, the Buccaneers bonded together and rallied, ending the game on an 18-6 run to close out a hard-fought 52-43 road win over the Eagles.
"Hudsonville shot the ball well tonight. They hit six 3-pointers on us and really made it difficult for us to get any easy buckets early on in the game," said Grand Haven head coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer. "I think our kids really gutted it out, though. It came down to the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, and our girls made the plays they needed to in order to win a tough road game.
"It wasn't our best game by any means, but we got it done."
Hudsonville got hot from outside early, taking a 14-13 at the end of the first quarter, but Grand Haven responded by taking a 23-22 lead into halftime.
The Eagles came out inspired in the third quarter, outscoring the Bucs 15-11 in the frame to take a 37-34 lead into the fourth. From there, Grand Haven put together a gutsy performance on both ends of the court, holding the Eagles to several empty possessions and running out an 18-6 run to end any thoughts of another upset loss.
Senior point guard Alli Keyser led the Bucs with 17 points, three steals and three assists. With her three assists, Keyser broke the Grand Haven program record for assists in a career with 193, breaking the previous mark of 191 held by Julie Henderson in 2003.
"I knew coming into this season that Alli had a chance for a really special year," said Kowalczyk-Fulmer. "It only took her one game to break the all-time steals mark and she's closing in on the all-time points scored mark, as well. She's just a very unselfish player, so I knew the assist mark would come in time. She's always trying to set up her teammates in a position to score, and that's what really makes her such a great player.
"No one works as hard as she does at her game. As her coach, I've seen her spend countless hours in the gym working on every aspect of her game, so I'm just so proud of her and I couldn't be happier for her to reach these milestones. At the same time, I know she'd rather win some team trophies, so it adds to the moment when we are winning games."
Senior center Esther Byington added 17 points and eight rebounds, while senior forward Kelly Otlhof had 10 points and seven offensive rebounds. Jolee Houle finished with five points, five assists and four steals, while Anna Strom added five points, six rebounds and three steals.
Mackenzie Gross and Olivia McMullen each scored two to round out the team scoring for the Buccaneers.
"I thought our post players really brought it tonight," said Kowalczyk-Fulmer. "Esther made a lot of hustle plays and made all seven of her free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, Kelly had seven offensive rebounds and made a few huge shots for us when we needed it. Mackenzie and Olivia battled for rebounds and had some nice putbacks, too.
"I thought a big play in the game that probably goes unnoticed was when we fell behind by six points late in the third quarter after Hudsonville hit a 3-pointer and Jolee came right down the court and nailed a triple right back. That really gave us some momentum heading into that fourth quarter.
"I'm proud of the effort and heart that our girls showed tonight, especially on the road. We've had to really battle through some adversity this week. Winning road games in our conference is tough, and I thought the girls proved themselves in that fourth quarter tonight when their backs were against the wall."
Grand Haven (13-1, 6-1 O-K Red) will travel to Rockford (10-3, 5-1 O-K Red) on Tuesday for its third straight conference road game. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
Junior varsity: Hudsonville defeated Grand Haven, 41-36. Zoe Spoelman led the Bucs with 14 points and six rebounds, while Caydee Constant added seven points and six steals. The Bucs are now 9-3 overall and 4-3 in the O-K Red.
Freshmen: Hudsonville defeated Grand Haven, 35-27. Claire Stevens led the Bucs with eight points, while Sammi Campbell added seven and Grace Montgomery with four points. The Buccaneers are now 8-4 overall.