By Jason Wesseldyk
On Tuesday, Dec. 18, the Saugatuck boys’ basketball team posted a 54-37 win over Holland Black River.
That was the last time the Indians had tasted victory, as they dropped their next eight games during a span of nearly two months.
But that changed when Saugatuck hosted Watervliet on Friday, Feb. 15.
Thanks largely to a defensive effort that limited the Panthers to 17 points in each half, Saugatuck posted the 39-34 victory to snap the losing skid and improve its record to 3-13.
“It was our defense that helped secure the victory throughout the contest, getting stops and rebounds and making every bucket difficult for the Panthers,” said Saugatuck coach Brian Ward, whose team avenged a 55-50 road loss to Watervliet earlier in the season.
Saugatuck dominated play to open the game, taking a 15-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“It could have been ever better without Watervliet hitting a three right at the buzzer,” Ward said.
The Indians increased that lead by one point in the second quarter, taking a 26-17 advantage to halftime.
“We had a great first half and specifically a great second quarter,” Ward said. “We only had two turnovers in that quarter.”
The third quarter wasn’t quite as kind to the Saugatuck offense, which stalled out with only three points, allowing Watervliet to tighten up the score.
But the Indians didn’t let the game slip away, as Brad Dunn hit a pair of late free throws to put things out of reach.
“Offensively, there are still plenty of things to improve, including our ball control and limiting our turnovers,” Ward said. “But we did just enough in the fourth quarter to squeak out the victory.”
Dunn paced the Indians with 15 points, followed by Wyatt Larsen with seven points. Winston Marcy, Sam Larsen and Matteo Andreazza each added four points.
Saugatuck appeared poised to end its losing streak two days earlier when it traveled to Holland Calvary for a non-league showdown on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
The Indians led the majority of the first three quarters and had a 44-42 edge after three quarters. But Holland Calvary used an 18-10 advantage in the fourth quarter to earn the comeback win at Saugauck’s expense.
“It’s tough and frustrating for me and the kids,” Ward said of the loss. “We’re working so hard day in and day out and we just can’t seem to get a couple of things to go our way. We’re still working and, most importantly, we’re still trying to teach and learn.
“We want our players to be able to learn from these moments of adversity. That’s what it’s all about.”
Dunn scored 24 points in the losing cause, while Marcy joined him in double figures with 11 points. Sam Larsen added eight points.