By Jason Wesseldyk
KALAMAZOO—A big second half from Sam Bronkema and some clutch free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter helped the Otsego boys basketball team eke out a win over Lansing Sexton on Saturday, Dec. 17.
Bronkema scored 17 of his team-high 21 points in the second half, while the Bulldogs went 11-of-15 at the line in the final frame to pick up the 62-60 and remain unbeaten at 5-0.
“We learned a lot about ourselves in this game,” Otsego coach Matt Dennis said. “They were very quick and aggressive, and our players needed to experience this.”
Otsego led 40-31 through three quarters after taking a 27-17 lead to halftime.
But Sexton didn’t go quietly, scoring as many points in the fourth quarter as it had through the first three to make things interesting.
“We did a nice job for three quarters, but the fourth quarter tested our ability to stay together and make plays as we saw our lead dwindle to as few as one point,” Dennis said. “But our ability to hit free throws in the fourth quarter is what allowed us to hold on to the win.”
Blake Marks led the solid showing at the line, going 6-of-8. That accounted for half of Marks’ total points for the game.
Cooper Smalldon was 3-of-4 at the line in the final frame, with Nolan VanderRoest knocking down both of the freebies he shot. Smalldon finished with eight points to tie Brevin Gabos for third on the team, while VanderRoest added six points.
Bronkema, meanwhile, scored 11 points in the third quarter. That included a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.
Otsego is off until Friday, Jan. 6, when it hosts Marshall in a non-conference game.
“It will be fun to see how this team comes together once we get a couple of practices to fine tune what we do,” Dennis said. “So far, it feels like we’ve put the basics in but haven’t had the chance to become good at any one thing. Over Christmas break, I think there will be a lot of growth for us as a team.”
By Jason Wesseldyk