Men’s basketball continues hot streak with Mary’s Day, Kid’s Day victories

GVL / Bo Anderson
GVSUs Tony Peters drives to the hoop against Ashland on Thursday

Bo Anderson

GVL / Bo Anderson GVSU’s Tony Peters drives to the hoop against Ashland on Thursday

Brady Fredericksen

When Boy Scout Troop 37 from Spring Lake, Mich., finally saw the Grand Valley State University
men’s basketball team emerge from the locker room, everything got quiet.

It was a mix of shock, excitement and sheer nerves as the Lakers walked around, signing autographs and introducing themselves to the young men who were a part of GVSU’s Kid’s Day on Saturday’s game against Lake Erie College.

It was not the only game for the kids, as Thursday’s game against Ashland University was billed as Mary’s Day, the Lakers (14-9, 10-6 GLIAC) tribute to awareness for freshman walk-on Steven Juengel’s younger sister Mary, who has been fighting with leukemia since age 11.

“It was really nice to be able to know that we definitely put a smile on her face and get that win for her,” said Juengel, who has played in eight games this season. “She called me after the game, she was pretty happy … Everybody on the team has been very supportive.”

While GVSU failed in its first attempt to honor the 12-year-old earlier this season, it put together a strong effort on Thursday, taking down Yates and Ashland (13-10, 8-8 GLIAC), 64-51.

The Ashland big man scored a team-high 18 points, but was out-shined by GVSU’s trio of guards James Thomas, Tony Peters and center Nick Waddell. The guards controlled the offense throughout, as Peters scored 13 points, including a stretch in the first half where he scored 11-of-13 GVSU points to help the Lakers expand their lead.

“Pretty much me and Nick and being keyed in every game on the other team‘s scouting report,” Thomas said. “So it’s always a big help when other guys can step up and hit big shots and put points on the board for us.”

Thomas and Waddell chipped in with their usual production, combining for 30 points and 14 rebounds.

Despite their offensive success on Thursday, that momentum didn’t immediately carry to Saturday’s contest against Lake Erie College (8-14, 3-12 GLIAC), which the Lakers won 64-57.

Through the game’s first seven minutes, the teams combined for only eight total points, and despite their lack-luster record, Lake Erie hung with the Lakers’ throughout the half, trailing by only one at the break.

“Certainly wasn‘t one of our best efforts, our energy and focus wasn‘t what we‘d like it to be,” said GVSU head coach Ric Wesley. “I give them a lot of credit, but at the same time I just didn‘t feel like our preparation as well as our effort was what we had hoped it would be.”

The Lakers 10-point lead dwindled late, as Lake Erie cut it to three at 52-49 with under four minutes to play. GVSU then went to a 1-3-1 zone, slowing Lake Erie and giving the Lakers enough space to stretch the lead to what would eventually be seven points.

“We try to do a lot of different things, and at this point in the season we‘ve done many things many times,” Wesley said. “We have a lot of things at our disposal, we just try to talk about it on the bench and sometimes at the end of the game if you can just throw something out there for one possession to disrupt them it can really be something that can break the game in your direction.”

Sweeping both games on the weekend, the Lakers jumped within a game of second place in the GLIAC North, a big step up from where they were two weeks ago, in the midst of losing six-of-seven games.

Winners of four straight, the Lakers will be off until Thursday when they travel to Ohio to take on the University of Findlay at 8 p.m.

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