Defense sparks Tigers to big road win

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

ANDREW REINEMANN of Howards Grove attempts to dribble around Oostburg’s Lukas Meerdink in Friday night’s CLC basketball game. Helping out on defense for Oostburg is Chris Brill (right). – Review photo by Greg Ceilley ANDREW REINEMANN of Howards Grove attempts to dribble around Oostburg’s Lukas Meerdink in Friday night’s CLC basketball game. Helping out on defense for Oostburg is Chris Brill (right). – Review photo by Greg Ceilley OOSTBURG – A suffocating defense and clutch free-throw shooting propelled the Howards Grove Tigers past Oostburg, 45- 35, in Central Lakeshore Conference boys basketball action here Friday night.

The Tigers, winners of eight in a row, upped their CLC-leading record to 11-1 (14-3 overall). The Flying Dutchmen dropped to 4-7 in league play (4-11 overall).

HGHS, which trailed 14-13 after one quarter, used its vaunted man-to-man defense to stymie the Dutchmen’s attack over the final three quarters – holding Oostburg to only 21 points during that span.

The Tigers led 33-28 after three quarters and then held Oostburg scoreless in the first 4:30 of the fourth period. During this stretch, the Dutchmen committed turnovers on four straight possessions on steals by HGHS, including one for an ensuing layup by Derrick Grimm which gave the Tigers a 35-28 lead at the 6:40 mark.

Ryan Hafeman ended the Dutchmen’s dry spell with a layup at the 3:30 juncture which made it 35-30.

The Tigers spread the floor the rest of the way and milked the clock, forcing Oostburg to foul. HGHS put the game away with a 6-1 spurt which gave the visitors a 41-31 advantage with 1:13 left. Oostburg had turnovers on six of their first seven possessions in the fourth period as it fell behind 39- 30.

The Tigers hit 8-for-8 at the foul line in the final 2:19, led by senior guard Ethan Brinkman who was 6-for-6.

“This is a great win. The team came out focused, played hard, worked hard and fought hard to the last second and got the W,” said Tiger senior guard Andrew Reinemann.

“Our defense is what we hang our hats on. We work hard on it every day and that’s where we’re the best. We stopped their bigs [post players] inside and didn’t let them [Dutchmen] get going on offense very easily.”

The Tigers struggled on offense in the first half of the second quarter – turning the ball over on their first three possessions while Oostburg had a 5-0 run, keyed by Lukas Meerdink’s three-pointer, to build a 19-13 lead.

HGHS finally got on the board in the second period when Zach Fritz sank two free throws with 3:01 remaining which made it 19-15. The Tigers outscored Oostburg 8-2 the rest of the first half to go ahead 23-21. Alex Strege and Brinkman drilled back-to-back treys to fuel the spurt.

Brinkman led HGHS in scoring with 13 points and Trent Beninghaus had 12. Beninghaus, a senior forward, pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds.

Grimm and Reinemann led the Tigers in steals with three each. Grimm had a team-high two assists.

“It was a great team effort allaround. I’m very pleased,” said Tiger head coach Eric Worth.

“The kids played their tails off and that’s been the story all year. It’s been a long time since we’ve won here. They [Dutchmen] always figure out how to make it extremely tough on you and you gotta be able to survive the grind.”

Meerdink paced Oostburg in scoring with 13. Jordan Molter, a 6-foot-6 senior forward who tallied a team-high 18 points in the Dutchmen’s first meeting with HGHS this season (a 53-47 Tiger win), was held to only seven in the rematch. Molter and Meerdink paced the Dutchmen in rebounds with six each.

“Molter is a horse down low and it starts with good ball pressure and not letting them get to their spots, and we did a really nice job of making the entry passes tough for them in the second half,” said Worth.

Hafeman led Oostburg in assists with three. Meerdink and Tristan VanEss had a team-high three steals apiece.

HGHS outscored Oostburg 13-4 at the foul line.

“We were pretty good, defensively, but you can’t turn the ball over five times [actually four] in a row late in the game and expect to win,” said Dutchman head coach Kevin Bruggink.

“They put pressure in you but we have to make good decisions. Some of them [turnovers] were unforced. You have to credit them for making plays and not turning it over.

“Howards Grove works hard and has a lot of athletes. They have some toughness about them and are senior-led,” said Bruggink.


Score by Quarters
Howards Grove......13 10 10 12 – 45
Oostburg.................147 7 7–35

Howards Grove scoring: Derrick Grimm 4, Zach Fritz 4, Andrew Reinemann 2, Trent Beninghaus 12, Ethan Brinkman 13, Alex Strege 6, Luke Stanczyk 4. Three-point goals: Brinkman 1, Strege 1.

Oostburg scoring: Jordan Molter 7, Lukas Meerdink 13, Tristan VanEss 6, Ryan Hafeman 5, Caleb Chaloupka 2, Jake Daane 2. Three-point goals: Meerdink 1, VanEss 2.

Field goals: Howards Grove 15- 38, 39%. Oostburg 14-37, 37%; Free throws: Howards Grove 13-17, 76%; Oostburg 4-6, 67%;

Rebounds: Howards Grove 24, Oostburg 18. Turnovers: Howards Grove 13, Oostburg 14.

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