KENTWOOD — Down 11 points with four minutes to play, the Grand Haven boys basketball team had to dig deep.
The crowd, the clock and the East Kentwood Falcons put the Buccaneers in a bind in the final moments of their regular season finale. Grand Haven leaned on their senior leadership and a stifling half-court trapping defense to end the fourth quarter on a 12-1 run and force overtime.
In the extra session, the Buccaneers outscored the Falcons 10-4 to secure a dramatic 72-66 win at East Kentwood High School.
"That was probably one of the more entertaining games to be a part of and definitely a fun one to coach," said Grand Haven head coach Greg Immink. "I'm so proud of the way our guys kept battling and the gutsy way they finished the game. We were down double-digits with four minutes to go and they didn't quit.
"The trapping defense that we were in for most of that run takes a lot of effort and energy to execute successfully. You aren't going to get a steal every time you run it, but tonight, we got enough timely steals and enough timely shots on offense to pull this off."
A fast-paced first quarter saw East Kentwood jump out to a 21-19 lead and extend their lead to 35-31 at halftime lead thanks to seniors Ryel Daye and Chris Brown.
Grand Haven couldn't chip away at the East Kentwood lead in the third quarter, as the Falcons held a 47-42 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Buccaneers fell behind 61-50 midway through the final stanza, before ending the game on a 22-5 run.
Senior guard Bryce Taylor scored 18 points to lead the Bucs, while Drew Sinke added 17 and Owen Worthington added 14. Casey Constant added 11 points, followed by Adam Strom with 10 points and Jon Elias with two points.
Daye and Jordan Jackson each scored 21 points to lead the Falcons, while Brown added 17.
"Bryce was so tough down the stretch on both ends of the court," said Immink. "He was leading the charge on defense and had a couple of big plays in transition that got us back within striking distance with less than two minutes to go.
"He just does so many things. He can shoot, he can dribble, he can drive. He rebounds well for his size, he plays great on-ball defense, and he's a difference-maker for us when he's out on the court."
The Buccaneers were without starting power forward Owen Ross, who is recovering from a concussion he suffered during Tuesday's game against Caledonia. In his absence, the team had multiple players take on new roles and execute those responsibilities well in crunch time.
"We needed some people to step up tonight without Owen in the lineup," added Immink. "We lose a lot when Owen isn't out there because he's such a great scorer on offense and rebounder on defense.
"I was really proud of the guys who took it upon themselves to do a little more out there. Sometimes, it was Adam Strom, other times, it was guys like Drew Sinke, Owen Worthington or Mason Mahacek who were playing out of their regular positions and battling down low.
"The effort from those guys and their ability to answer the call when we needed them most is the reason why we came out with the win tonight."
The Buccaneers (13-7, 8-4 O-K Red) will take on their perennial playoff rival, the Muskegon Big Reds (17-3), on Monday at 7 p.m. at Muskegon High School.
"It was almost like a good run-through for us tonight against a good East Kentwood team at their place," said Immink. "Obviously, everyone knows how good Muskegon is. I like our guys, though, and I like the way we've been playing these last few weeks. I think we're playing our best ball of the season at the right time.
"We're excited for Monday. It's tournament time, so it's do or die. If you win, you move on. If you lose, that's it. I think our guys will be hungry and ready to go when the game tips off."
Junior varsity: Grand Haven defeated East Kentwood, 43-39. Landon Vanbeek scored 13 points to lead the Bucs, while Ethan Jhamb and Logan Melcher each added 10 points.