FRUITPORT – Tuesday night’s rivalry game between the Spring Lake and Fruitport boys basketball teams had a little different feel to it, at least before tipoff.
Spring Lake has had a successful program for a long time and dominated Fruitport in recent years,
But things have been more even this season. The Trojans were off to a nice 6-4 start while the Lakers came into the game with a 5-4 record following two straight losses.
But as much as the big picture has changed, the outcome remained the same when the rivals went head-to-head at Fruitport High School, with the Lakers walking away with a 51-35 victory.
Spring Lake improved to 6-4 on the season and 4-2 in the O-K Blue conference standings. Fruitport fell to 6-5 and 3-3.
“It’s always a big rivalry game, and you never know what’s going to happen,” said Spring Lake coach Bill Core. “They are athletic, and they have great home crowds. We talked about trying to get off to a great start and put a little doubt in their minds.”
The Lakers did just that by jumping out to an 11-2 lead with 2:51 left in the first quarter. Spring Lake held the Trojans to just five first quarter points and had an 18-5 advantage headed into the second.
Carter Ball paced Spring Lake with six points in the first quarter while Zane Stahl had four.
“I think those first four or five minutes were big,” said Fruitport coach Steve Erny. “We had good looks, but we just couldn’t put it in the bucket. If some of those early shots went in, it could have changed the complexion of the game.”
The Trojans fought back during the second quarter, outscoring Spring Lake 10-9 to cut their deficit to 27-15 at halftime.
Ball had 11 points to lead all scorers in the first half while Stahl had six. Seven different players scored for Fruitport in the first two quarters.
Fruitport kept pushing closer during a slow third quarter. The Trojans outscored Spring Lake 7-5 and trailed 32-22 heading into the fourth.
Bode Anspach scored five points in the third quarter for Fruitport.
The Lakers exploded in the fourth quarter, scoring the first six points and going on a 19-8 run to take a 51-30 lead with 1:38 remaining. Spring Lake was 11-for-16 from the free throw line in the first six minutes of the fourth.
The Trojans closed out the scoring with a triple and a two-point basket in the final minutes.
The Lakers were led by Eli Morrison with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Stahl finished with 14 points and nine boards while Ball scored 13 points.
“I can breathe a little bit because it’s over and we got the win,” Core said. “It was important for this young team to get this win and build confidence.”
Anspach paced Fruitport with 11 points while Ryan Bosch had seven.
“It was a defensive battle and unfortunately there has been some trends in games we lost where we haven’t been able to score much,” Erny said. “I think we know that Bode (Anspach) is a good shooter but when he is not hitting them, we need someone else to step up or get to the bucket a little bit more.”