By Randy Gregory
Friday’s contest against Grand Haven stood in stark contrast to the defensive game played against Hudsonville earlier in the week on Tuesday. After not being able to literally throw the ball in the ocean against the Eagles, Rockford poured in eight three-pointers in the first half alone against the Buccaneers. Crisp ball movement and deadly outside shooting seemed to be the order of the day for Rockford as they eventually built a 47-31 lead a few moments into the final quarter. But a frenetic trapping defense and suddenly red-hot shooting by the visitors allowed them to outpoint the Rams 29-13 over the last seven minutes and send the game into overtime at 60-60.
The stunned crowd and the Rams then watched in further disbelief as the Bucs outscored Rockford 8-6 in the four-minute overtime session to grab the improbable win 68-66. The loss dropped Rockford to 10-6 on the season and left their hopes of an OK Red title on life support with a 4-3 conference record and two games behind East Kentwood and also a game behind Hudsonville.
The Rams led 13-7 after the first quarter, 32-20 at the half and 45-31 after three quarters. The Rams shot 52.5% from the field for the game and over 46% from the three-point line in a return to a much more well rounded performance in the scoring column. Rockford was an impressive 12-26 from distance but still came up on the losing end in a game that was stunning in it’s eventual outcome. There have probably been more disappointing losses somewhere along the line for Rockford basketball, but it would be hard to recall when and where that happened.
The lead was gradually whittled down to single digits by Grand Haven but the Rams still held a one-point lead and were at the line with ten seconds to play in regulation. But the Rams split the pair and Grand Haven raced down the floor and got fouled on a drive to the hoop. The Bucs sank the two resultant free throws to knot things up and Rockford missed a last second shot to send the game into the extras session.
Casey Watters led Rockford with 15 points. He was joined in double figures by Zach Finkbeiner with 12 and Chase Fairchild with ten points. Chad Carlson and Robert Holmes came close to joining them with nine points apiece.