FRUITPORT – Of course it takes more than one player to win a basketball game, and there is never just one player to blame in a loss.
But Fruitport standout Bode Anspach seems to have a big impact on his team’s fate, one way or the other.
A few weeks ago the Trojans were enjoying a four-game winning streak, something that hasn’t happened a lot for the Fruitport basketball program in recent years.
Anspach played a big role in that exciting run, including the final victory, which came on Jan. 10 against Allendale.
The Trojans trailed by eight points after three quarters, then Anspach got hot down the stretch, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, including two free throws with eight seconds left to ice the victory.
But after that game Anspach got a little cold from the floor, and the Trojans got cold as well.
He was limited to 12 points in the next game, a loss to Coopersville, and no points at all in an ugly 52-26 loss to Hamilton.
That zero-point performance did not sit well with Anspach, and he made up for it in a big way when the Trojans returned to the court last Friday. He pumped in 26 points – including five 3-pointers and a 9-for-10 performance at the free-throw line – propelling the Trojans to a big 65-54 home win over Grand Rapids West Catholic.
Now Fruitport will enter Tuesday’s home rivalry game against Spring Lake in a much better frame of mind, and Anspach can’t wait to play the Lakers.
It’s been a long time since the Trojans have beaten Spring Lake, and they are eager to end that drought.
“It’s a big deal,” Anspach said about playing Spring Lake. “We haven’t beaten them in my high school career, and this is the year we feel like we could do it. We had a real good practice on Monday and we’re eager to see how we can do.”
Anspach admitted that his zero-point game against Hamilton bothered him, and he said he did something about it.
“Right after that game I was really mad at myself, and I took the next couple of days to fix it,” he said. “I took an hour after practice on Thursday to shoot on the shooting gun, and I did that again on game day, right after school.”
Fruitport coach Steve Erny was very happy to see Anspach back in form of Friday night, when the team really needed a win.
“For him to bounce back from a poor game and get 26 points with five three-pointers and be 9 for 10 from the line, he certainly deserves some credit,” Erny said. “The Bode from his sophomore year, or even last year, may not have been able to make such a quick turnaround. But now he’s a senior, he’s mentally tougher, he knows his spots better and he knows which shots are good shots.”
Erny said the scoreless game could have happened to any player, and he was really impressed with the way that Anspach reacted to it.
“He got a lot of good looks in that game, but Hamilton is a good team, they were keying on him, and it was a combination of their defense and the bucket just seeming to have a lid on it for him,” the coach said. “That happens to the best of us. It’s how you respond that’s important.”
Anspach is only 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds, but he makes up for it with his quickness, outside shooting skills and his ability to drive to the rim, Erny said.
“He’s our point guard, he has his hands on the ball a lot, he’s a good ball-handler and he’s very quick and strong for his size,” he said. “Teams have a hard time with his quickness. It’s hard to stay in front of him. He’s a pretty tough kid for being a little undersized. Our team has a lot of faith in him.”
More importantly, the Trojans have a lot of faith in themselves, according to Anspach.
The Trojans could have let the two-game losing streak affect their confidence and the rest of the season. But the players remained positive, learned from the losses and were determined to get back to winning, Anspach said.
“We didn’t feel like we were down,” he said. “We know those were games we could have won, and we were just determined to get better. We all took it in a good way and improved from it.”
After winning only one game in 2020-21, and posting a 7-14 record last season, Fruitport is now 6-4, and Anspach said the change is for real.
“We struggled for a few seasons, but we feel like this year is a real big turnaround season,” he said. “We have changed a lot of attitudes, not just on the court but in school with our friends. We are giving everyone hope.”
Friday’s big win over West Catholic was perfectly timed. As everyone knows, the Fruitport community was devastated by the sudden death of a freshman girls basketball player last Tuesday. Anspach said he and his teammates wanted to find a way to help lift everyone’s spirits a bit, and he thinks they did that with their performance.
“We knew we were playing that game for her, and we wanted to give our community something to be happy about,” he said. “We had the biggest crowd there that we’ve had all year, and it felt really nice.”
Coach Enry echoed those thoughts.