CEDAR SPRINGS — The Greenville Yellow Jackets boys basketball team is out of the O-K Bronze Conference race. But that doesn’t mean they can’t play spoiler for teams still competing for the coveted league championship.
That’s what happened on Tuesday night as the Yellow Jackets pulled off a 61-55 upset win at Cedar Springs. The Red Hawks entered the game tied with Forest Hills Northern at 6-1 in the league. The loss, couple with Northern’s 45-42 win over Northview, leaves the Red Hawks a game back with two league games remaining.
Greenville (8-9, 3-5) used a solid defensive effort and shared the offensive responsibility in the win. The Yellow Jackets lost 88-55 at home to Cedar Springs in January.
“Our objective is to be peaking at the end of the year,” Greenville coach Mark Haist said. “I don’t know if I’ve had a team that has been building up to that point. We have that potential. We have changed things and kids are accepting their roles and what we’ve asked them to do.”
The Yellow Jackets fought through foul trouble the entire game and had a trio of seniors in double figures.
“Tonight, we thought our kids played very unselfishly and battled,” Haist said. “We gave up a few offensive boards, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. I’m very proud of this effort tonight.”
Cedar Springs (11-6, 6-2) used a late first quarter surge to take a 17-13 advantage after one quarter. They extended their lead to six in the second quarter before the Yellow Jackets started rolling offensively.
Stephen Roy hit two three-pointers, while Parker Syrjala knocked down 7-of-8 free throws as Greenville outscored the Red Hawks 22-15 in the quarter for a 35-32 halftime lead.
Both teams slowed offensively in the third quarter, but the Yellow Jackets increased their lead to 48-42.
In the fourth quarter, Cedar Springs pulled within two points with 3:42 remaining in the game. That’s when junior Mitch Niewoonder drained a three-pointer from the top of the key for a 55-50 lead. Niewoonder scored all eight of his points in the second half.
“He plays with no fear,” Haist said of Niewoonder. “Lately, the way he’s shooting you have to assume it’s going in. You have to play with confidence and he has confidence in what he is doing. You have to love it.”
A pair of Syrjala free throws gave the Yellow Jackets a 57-50 lead. Cedar Springs wasn’t done as they again pulled to within two points with less than a minute remaining. Rebounds and free throws sealed the game for Greenville.
Brad Brechting scored a game-high 25 points for Cedar Springs. Cam Link finished with just nine points.
“Brechting and Link are two of the best players in the area. So we came out with a game plan to take those two away,” Haist said. “If their third or fourth options beat us then we shake their hand and say good job.”
Ian Cooper, Syrjala and Roy all scored 12 points. Ryan Davis finished with eight points. Cooper also grabbed eight rebounds.
Greenville travels to Forest Hills Eastern on Friday.
GREENVILLE 61, CEDAR SPRINGS 55
Greenville 13 22 13 13 — 61
Cedar Springs 17 15 10 13 — 55
GREENVILLE (8-9, 3-5) — Cooper 3 5-6 12, Syrjala 1 10-12 12, Roy 4 0-0 12, Davis 3 0-1 8, Cossou 0 1-4 1, Snyder 2 0-0 4, Niewoonder 3 0-0 8, Morris 1 1-2 4. Totals: 17 17-25 61. Three-point goals: Roy 4, Davis 2, Niewoonder 2, Mooris, Cooper. Total fouls: 21. Fouled out: Roy.
CEDAR SPRINGS (11-6, 6-2) — Link 2 4-4 9, Brechting 8 9-12 25, Mabie 2 0-0 5, Kooiman 0 3-5 3, VanDyke 2 0-0 4, Hilyer 2 0-0 6, Bekins 0 1-2 1, Kearney 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 17-23 55. Three-point goals: Hilyer 2, Link, Mabie. Total fouls: 24. Fouled out: Mabie.
O-K Bronze Standings
FH Northern 7-1 12-5
Cedar Springs 6-2 11-6
Northview 5-3 12-5
Greenville 3-5 8-9
West Catholic 2-6 6-11
FH Eastern 1-7 3-14