MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – The Fruitport boys basketball team kept its dream week alive for one exciting quarter on Friday night, before painful reality finally set in.

The Trojans, who battled their way through a very rough 5-17 regular season, suddenly came to life this week in the Division 2 district tournament at Orchard View High School.

They started by beating Orchard View on Monday in overtime, then got past Oakridge on Wednesday in another tight game.

That made Fruitport a surprise participant in Friday’s district championship game against archrival Spring Lake, a very good team that came in as a heavy favorite.

The Trojans looked great for the first eight minutes, jumping out to a surprising 12-4 lead and leaving everyone wondering if their Cinderella run could continue.

DayDay Williams, who led the Trojans with 14 points, takes a shot. Photo/Jeremy Clark

Then they went cold from the floor, making only four field goal attempts the rest of the night and falling to the Lakers 42-26. It was the second straight year that the Trojans lost to Spring Lake in the district finals.

Fruitport finished the season with a 7-18 record. Spring Lake, 13-12, moves on to next week’s Division 2 regionals.

“For us to come out and hit some shots and play with that energy was great,” Fruitport Coach Steve Erny said about the first quarter. “Spring Lake came out a little flat and we were pumped up.

“Spring Lake is a really good team. We’ve played them twice already this year and knew it was going to be a grind. Our goal was just to keep it close and try to keep the score within range, but there were too many stretches where we had too much of a dry spell, made some mistakes and missed some good looks.”

All-in-all, it was a very fun week for a Fruitport team that lost a lot of games in January and February, but kept working hard and clearly improved along the way.

Fruitport’s Ryan Bosch pushes his way into the paint. Photo/Jeremy Clark

That bodes well for next season, when most of their roster, including four of five starters, is expected to return.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt we have improved,” Erny said. “These guys had a real fun week and were able to celebrate for two nights in the locker room, I’m just proud of this group. Our seniors left a great mark on the program, we have a lot of good players coming back and we’ve got good kids coming up. The future looks bright for sure.

Fruitport played great in the first quarter on both Monday and Wednesday, and that continued against Spring Lake, the team that stunned previously undefeated Whitehall in Wednesday’s semifinal round.

DayDay Williams scored five points, Ryan Bosch had four and Grade Anspach nailed a triple, helping the Trojans build an unlikely eight-point lead at the first buzzer.

Spring Lake helped the Trojans by being ice cold from the floor, hitting only one of nine shots.

Senior Kyle Burke, playing in his last game, takes a one-handed jumper. Photo/Jeremy Clark

Unfortunately for the Trojans, the big first quarter was followed by three frustrating quarters when they had trouble scoring.

Williams led off the second quarter with a layup to make the score 14-4, then the Trojans went 0-for-7 from the floor the rest of the way, scored no more points and trailed 15-14 at halftime.

Fruitport had a chance to regroup in the locker room and reclaim the lead, but their shots became few and far between in the slower-paced game, and the ones they got off were missing the mark.

The Trojans made only two of six shots in the third quarter and trailed 26-21 heading into the fourth.

That was still a manageable deficit, but Fruitport made only one basket and five points in the fourth quarter. Spring Lake finally pulled away by scoring 14 points in the fourth, including 10 from the free throw line.

Grade Anspach, one of the talented young players returning next season, brings the ball up the court for Fruitport. Photo/Jeremy Clark

“The first quarter was indicative that we could be in the game, and the game was basically tied at halftime,” Coach Erny said. “Our strategy was working pretty well, but then Spring Lake started hitting some shots. Over the course of four quarters it’s hard to shut down really good players completely.

“It was fun to win some games and have another good postseason run.”

Eli Morrison and Zach Schlepp led a balanced Spring Lake attack with eight points apiece. Williams finished with 14 points for Fruitport. eddie