The MHSAA Boys Basketball season is set to tip off tonight, with teams all across the state ready for the first full season in two years. Our team at Michigan Sports Radio will have two articles a week with scores and stats around our coverage area, but we will begin our 2021-22 boys basketball season with a preview of over 40 teams in our region.


Baldwin Panthers

Last Season: 13-2, lost in District Finals

Head Coach: JJ Eads (3rd Season, 29-8)

Key Returners: Carmelo Lindsey (Jr, 17 PPG, 3.5 SPG); Jalik Hawkins (Sr, 3 PPG, 3 RPG); Jesse Pancio (Sr, 6 PPG, 3 APG)

Notable Newcomers: Javon Hawkins (Soph); Remington Owens (Sr); SJ Hossler (Soph)

Outlook: Eads, is in his third season at Baldwin, and he has won two West Michigan “D” titles. His search of the championship hat-trick will require some new faces to step up. Baldwin lost seven players from a year ago, four to graduation and three to transferring out. The good news is that the Panthers return Carmelo Lindsey, a two-time All-WMD honoree. He leads a deep backcourt for this Baldwin team, though the team finds itself generally inexperienced. They may lean heavily on him as the others gain their footing early on.

First Game: Thursday 12/9 at Pentwater


Byron Center Bulldogs

Last Season: 4-11, lost in District Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Joe Rodriguez (3rd Season, 13-23)

Key Returners: Alex Stacey (6’0”); Isaac Carlson (6’0”); Logan McKenzie (6’7”)

Notable Newcomers: Austin Buckley (6’2”, Jr); Cam Karel (6’7”, Fr); Isaac Lee (5’11” Fr); JJ Brock (6’5” Soph)

Outlook: The Bulldogs have players spanning all four graduating classes. Despite this wide array of players, they have developed a strong chemistry. “This group loves to play for each other, while competing for their spots every day”, Rodriguez shared. “Our seniors provide the leadership that our young players need for guidance to grow throughout the season. With three underclassmen, there will be some learning bumps, but we need out upperclassmen to play consistently to overcome any blunders. Depth will be key for us as we prepare to play each night in an extremely difficult OK White.”

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Jenison


Caledonia Fighting Scots

Last Season: 10-7, lost in District Finals

Head Coach: Phil Visser (7th Season, 39-82)

Key Returners: Camden Raffler (Sr); Gavin Hurst (Sr); Liam Mulnix (5’10” Sr, 7 PPG, 1 APG); Nic Bender (Sr); Nick Fox (Sr); Nick Henry (6’6” Sr, 6 PPG, 7 RPG)

Outlook: The Fighting Scots made a run to the District Finals last season, the first time that had occurred since 2003. Unfortunately, Caledonia fell three points shy of the title against East Grand Rapids. The Fighting Scots lost their top two scorers from a season ago, so they will look to Henry and Mulnix as an inside-outside scoring duo. This is a very deep group with a lot of length, so Visser hopes that they can cause disruptions defensively. It’s also a very physical bunch, bringing toughness from the school’s successful football season to the hardwood. This team will need to gain experience working together, as just three returners were in the rotation last winter.

First Game: Friday 12/10 at Byron Center


Calvin Christian Squires

Last Season: 8-7, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Ryan Stevens (24th Season)

Key Returners: Andrew Heeringa (6’4” Sr, 10 PPG, 5 RPG); Brady Haaisma (6’3” Sr, 10 PPG, 2 RPG); Brady Nicols (5’11 Sr); Damon Stevens (5’11 Sr); Ethan Orme (6’0” Sr); Jack Agema (5’9” Jr, 6 PPG, 2 APG, 2 SPG); Jack Hollebeek (6’4” Sr, 9 PPG, 3 RPG)

Notable Newcomers: Carson DeHaan (6’3” Jr); James Daniels (6’0” Jr); Matt Elderkin (6’4” Soph)

Outlook: The Squires battled Covenant Christian in the semifinals, falling by eight. This winter, Calvin Christian brings back an extremely deep team that is athletic and can score in a multitude of ways. If this team is able to find their rotation and play sound defense, they will be contending in the OK Silver race.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Holland Christian


Central Montcalm Hornets

Last Season: 5-13, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Duane Howe (2nd Season, 5-13)

Key Returners: Blake Guilford (Jr, 7 PPG, 4 RPG); Fisher Hill (Sr, 9 PPG, 9 RPG)

Notable Newcomers: Eric Hall (6’2” Jr); Kaleb Crooks (6’4” Sr); Lucas Hirkaway (6’4” Jr)

Outlook: “This team is extremely athletic, and they have a great work ethic. They really know how to grind it out and do the dirty work as a team,” Howe praised. Central Montcalm has struggled with staying healthy in the pre-season, completing just one full-squad practice due to sickness. This could play a factor in the early part of the season. “This group protects each other on the floor. They push and fight in practice, but they function as one unit when the game starts.”

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Greenville


Comstock Park Panthers

Last Season: 7-7, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Tye Edwards (1st Season)

Players to Follow: Donovan Cummings (5’8″, Soph); Tyler DeWitt (Sr)

Outlook: It’s a new era at Comstock Park, as Tye Edwards takes over the program. Edwards, who spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Alma College, brings a new bolt of energy to Panther basketball. He will try to build off of last season’s .500 effort in an improving OK Silver conference.

First Game: Monday 12/6 vs Wellspring Prep


Covenant Christian Chargers

Last Season: 15-7, lost in State Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Tyler Schimmel (8th Season, 109-51)

Key Returners: Ethan Scholten (5’10” Sr); Evan Engelsma (6’7” Sr); Evan Koole (6’5” Sr); Jonny Kuiper (6’0” Jr); Micah Koole (6’4” Sr); Zack Gritters (6’1” Sr)

Notable Newcomers: Caden Engelsma (6’1” Sr); Isaac Kuperas (6’6” Jr); Logan Holstege (5’10” Jr); Travis Holstege (6’0” Jr)

Outlook: The Chargers made a run to the Quarterfinals a year ago, and they are loaded up for another deep playoff run. Covenant Christian returns their top 10 players from last year’s team and adds four more valuable pieces to boost their depth. Gritters and Evan Engelsma led the team in scoring a year ago, but there are so many weapons that can strike for Covenant Christian. This team returns more than anyone else in West Michigan, and given their success a year ago, it would be shocking not to see them making noise in March. As an independent, they put together another schedule that will challenge this team every night, bettering them for the postseason.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Unity Christian


East Grand Rapids Pioneers

Last Season: 7-6, lost in Regional Semifinals

Head Coach: Derrick Owens Sr. (6th Season, 49-51 at EGR, 3x State Champ as Detroit SM dePorres HC)

Key Returners: Arjun Taylor (6’2” Jr); Drew Caswell (6’0” Jr); Simon Neuhaus (6’5” Jr)

Outlook: Last year, East Grand Rapids was a young team with three sophomores starting. This winter, that trio enter as experienced District Champions, ready to return to that stage. “Last year, we bonded as a group of sophomores. We have great chemistry, and we developed trust as a team,” Neuhaus shared. The team bond strengthened over this offseason, as they went to Camp Henry as a team. “We weren’t allowed to use phones, and it allowed us to bond as a team, sophomores to seniors.” Coach Owens echoed the benefits of that trip. “I just sat back and watched the chemistry develop while we were there. We demand communication on the floor, and building that trust is so important.” The expectations are high in East Grand Rapids, as they look to contend for the OK White championship and another deep run in March.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Rockford


East Kentwood Falcons

Last Season: 3-12, lost in District Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Rob Roelofs (1st Season as interim coach)

Key Returners: Jack Scrimshaw (6’5” Sr); Marshaun Flakes (6’1” Jr); Razah Townsend (6’3” Jr)

Notable Newcomers: Jah Hatchett (5’9” Fr)

Outlook: The Falcons might have been the best three-win team around last year, suffering five losses by four points or fewer. This winter, the Falcons will see fresh faces all around. Rob Roelofs steps in as the interim coach this season, with 14 years of experience under his belt. He is familiar with the Falcons program, spending six years as the JV coach and five years with the girls program. On the court, the Falcons return just one starter from a season ago. A quick and athletic bunch, they will gain valuable experience during a gauntlet of a 20-game schedule that features Forest Hills Central, Muskegon, Orchard Lake St Mary’s and South Christian, in addition to the OK Red slate.

First Game: Saturday 12/11 at Lansing Sexton


Edwardsburg Eddies

Last Season: 9-4, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Steve Wright (9th Season)

Key Returners: Brendan Byce (6’4”; Sr); Isaac Merrill (5’10” Sr); Jacob Pegura (6’6” Sr); Jake Moore (5’10” Sr); Luke Stowasser (6’5” Sr)

Outlook: The Eddies are a cohesive bunch that returns five key seniors from a season ago, including a pair of 2nd team All-Wolverine players (Byce and Stowasser). They add to the mix a strong JV team that posted an undefeated record. This combination should have them in the race in Wolverine action throughout the winter.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 at Marshall


Fennville Blackhawks

Last Season: 14-4, lost in District Finals

Head Coach: Ty Rock (3rd Season, 29-10)

Key Returners: Ben Peterson (5’10” Jr); Corey Callejas (5’10” Sr); Dylan Schut (6’2” Sr); Izayah Strickfaden (6’1” Sr); Tyler Schut (6’5” Sr)

Notable Newcomers: Connor Aalderink (6’4” Sr); Max Machado (5’8” Jr); Nathan Griffin (5’8” Jr)

Outlook: Followers of the Fennville football team watched the “Basketball on Turf” offense score 58 or more points three times this fall. Many of those key pieces will return for their fourth season on the actual hardwood, looking to build off of a strong season a year ago. “The majority of our returners have played for me for three years now, and they have a good sense of what we need to do as a team to be successful,” Rock shared. “We have a lot of dynamic athletes who can do a variety of things, and each one of them will be asked to do different things throughout the course of the year”.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Kelloggsville


Forest Hills Eastern Hawks

Last Season: 12-6, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Jason Yelding (14th Season)

Key Returners: Aiden Sullivan (6’0” Jr); Caden VandenBerge (6’3” Sr); Jacob Pallo (6’1” Jr); Owen Hardy (6’9” Sr)

Notable Newcomers: Jayce Culp (6’2” Jr); Mac DenBraber (6’1” Jr)

Outlook: The Hawks look like a versatile team this fall. They have several players who can play at multiple positions, allowing Coach Yelding to mix up his lineups. Though there are some newbies at the varsity level, the internal competition will be exciting to follow at FHE. Hardy is expected to be a major player for the Hawks, as he has garnered college attention. The success of this team will rely on how well the supporting cast can perform.

First Game: Friday 12/10 at Forest Hills Central


Forest Hills Northern Huskies

Last Season: 17-2, lost in Division 1 Semifinals

Head Coach: Joe Soules (11th Season, 152-69)

Key Returners: Charlie Hartman (5’10” Sr); George Bakker (6’3” Sr); Jonathan Fay (6’2 Sr); Musa Hammad (6’2” Sr); Travis Myers (6’0” Sr)

Notable Newcomers: Justin St Antoine (5’10” Fr)

Outlook: The Huskies made their first run to the Final 4 last year, behind the dynamic duo of Ethan Erickson and Trinidad Chambliss. Those two, as well as five others, have graduated, but the cupboard is not bare. FHN returns seven seniors from last year’s team, and they bring new wrinkles to this program. “This is a new group of seniors, and they are a fun group to be around,” Soules remarked. “We have talked about leaving a new legacy on this program, keeping the forward progress of FHN basketball.”

First Game: Friday 12/10 vs Grandville


Fruitport Trojans

Last Season: 1-16, lost in District Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Steve Erny (5th Season)

Key Returners: Bode Anspach (Jr); Cade Powell (Sr); Camden Farrell (Sr); Collin Jolman (Jr); Gavin Reames (Sr); Paschal Jolman (Jr); Ryan Laus (Sr)

Notable Newcomers: Andrew Spyke (Jr); Ryan Mitchell (Soph)

Outlook: The Trojans bring back chemistry and experience at the varsity level. They have speed and athleticism at the guard position, and the newcomers have filled in to shore up the rotation. “Defensively, we need to continually improve,” Erny shared. “We may struggle to matchup size-wise with many teams in our league, so we need to make up for that with energy and grit. Coming off a COVID season, this group is hungry and has a growing belief. We are committed to focusing on ‘just us’ this year and improving every day.”

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 at Oakridge


Fruitport Calvary Christian Eagles

Last Season: 8-7, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Brad Richards (2nd Season, 8-7)

Key Returners: Bradley Richards (6’6” Fr, 16 PPG, 12 RPG); Ethan Cammenga (6’3” Sr); Jacob May (5’9” Sr, 10 PPG, 5 APG); Luke Assaad (6’1” Sr); Quinn Swanson (5’10” Fr)

Notable Newcomers: Josiah Jackson (5’11” Sr); Nick Swanson (6’0” Sr); Raj Grewal (5’11” Sr)

Outlook: Fruitport Calvary took big strides last winter as a program, putting together the best season in a decade. They were led by Richards, who averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds per game, earning Honorable Mention All-State honors, as an 8th grader! He is back for his freshman season, as is Swanson. They will be joined by a trio of seniors, and they all hope to continue to move Fruitport Calvary forward as a program this winter.

First Game: Monday 12/6 vs Pentwater


Godwin Heights Wolverines

Last Season: 10-1, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Tyler Whittemore (8th season, 122-29)

Key Returners: Jabari Crump-Moore (Sr); Jakhary Towns (Jr); Jeremiah Drake (Sr); Jordan Norman (Sr); Mark Dolo (Sr)

Outlook: The Wolverines went undefeated during the regular season ago, capturing the OK Silver crown. They return a few key players from last year’s team, hoping to repeat in league play. The experience that the bench gains throughout the season will be vital for the Wolverines throughout the year.

First Game: Saturday 12/18 vs Hamtramck


Grand Haven Buccaneers

Last Season: 11-6, lost in Regional Semifinals

Head Coach: Greg Immink (7th Season at Grand Haven, 9th Overall)

Key Returners: Bashir Neely (6’2” Sr, 11 PPG); Harrison Sorrelle (6’5” Jr, 12 PPG, 6 RPG); Nic Stump (6’5” Sr, 13 PPG, 7 RPG); Owen Worthington (6’3” Sr)

Notable Newcomers: Tucker Kooi (6’7” Sr)

Outlook: The Bucs captured a District Championship last season, snapping a lengthy streak of titles held by Muskegon. Though they suffered a four-point loss to Forest Hills Northern, Grand Haven announced their presence in West Michigan basketball. They have strong collective experience, with a “Big 4” in Neely, Sorrelle, Stump and Worthington. All four players will have the chance to play at the next level. Coach Immink stressed the need for consistently playing at a high level, but if they can do that, they will be contending for the OK Red championship.

First Game: Friday 12/10 vs Reeths-Puffer


Grand Rapids Catholic Central Cougars

Last Season: 20-0, Division 2 State Champion

Head Coach: TJ Meerman (9th Season, 118-63)

Key Returners: Jack Karasinski (6’7” Sr, Committed to William & Mary); Jorden Brooks (6’3” Sr); KK Brown (6’0” Jr); Luka Ressler (6’2” Sr); Phat Phat Brooks (6’1”, Soph)

Outlook: The Cougars ran the table last year, posting a 20-0 record on their way to a Division 2 State Championship, the school’s first. With plenty of talent returning, GRCC is a candidate to repeat. “We have been focused on handling our business each day, getting better individually and staying together,” Meerman shared. “We need to focus on rebounding. As a smaller team than last year, it needs to be a collective effort on the boards. This team has the same unselfish style as last year’s crew. Any guy can step up and deliver at any moment.” Jack Karasinski, one of the area’s top players, echoed his coach’s sentiment. “It’s going to be hard to repeat, but we are still hungry. We had a good offseason, and this team has fantastic chemistry with guys stepping into their new roles.” Coach Meerman has had to wait for some of his guys to return from the football playoffs, something that he sees as a benefit. “Guys play on Saturday in Detroit, then are getting in the gym for the first time this week, but I see it as a good thing. They are in good shape already, and they bring toughness and a championship mentality to our program.”

First Game: Friday 12/10 at Grand Rapids Christian


Grand Rapids Christian Eagles

Last Season: 9-3, lost in District Finals

Head Coach: Eric Taylor

Key Returners: Brandon Schepel (Sr); Delon McCloud (Sr); Nick Cassiday (Sr)

Outlook: The Eagles missed the final three weeks of the regular season last winter, but still managed to advance to the District Finals. In that trophy game, they fell eight points shy of the South Christian Sailors. This winter, they will begin their season in a rematch with those Sailors. “We are excited for a normal season”, Taylor shared. “I just miss spending time together as a team, the team building outside of the games.” The senior trio agreed that they are looking forward to one more, far more normal, campaign in the Columbia blue and black. “We have a young core, and I am looking forward to one last run”, Schepel shared. “I feel like we are flying under the radar a bit, and we are looking forward to proving the doubters wrong.”

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs South Christian


Grandville Bulldogs

Last Season: 8-9, lost in District Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Desmond Young (1st Season)

Key Returners: Brayden Gable (Sr); Michael Clark (Sr); Trey Johnson (Sr)

Notable Newcomers: Cam Regnerus (Soph)

Outlook: The Bulldogs begin a new regime this winter, as Young takes over after three seasons as a Grand Rapids Christian assistant. “I’m excited to run my own program,” Young remarked. “The kids are starting to buy into the culture, so it’s an exciting time. There is some great talent in the city of Grandville, so we are looking to build this program up.” This all starts with Gable, a senior that has received plenty of Division 3 attention. “I am looking forward to playing for Coach Young, and all of the energy around this new coaching staff”, Gable shared. “I’ve enjoyed playing with Cam (Regnerus) this offseason. I played with his brother (Landon) last year, so it’s been fun to play with Cam as well. He’s a really good basketball player.”

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 at Mona Shores


Hesperia Panthers

Last Season: 0-14, lost in District Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Andrew Worcester (3rd Season, 0-35)

Key Returners: Armando Escobedo (6’0” Jr); Maddox Mosley (6’4” Jr)

Notable Newcomers: Gabe Gould (5’10” Jr); Jared Tanner (6’3” Fr); Maverick McKinnon (6’2” Jr); Zach Glenn (6’2” Jr)

Outlook: Coach Worcester’s Panthers are a quick bunch, but they need to shore up their bench depth this winter. “We have a young team, but these guys are hungry to win”, Worcester shared. “We had a great offseason and thanks to the new additions on our team, we have a new look too. I’m extremely excited to see these guys in action. I think we can catch teams off guard this year.”

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Walkerville


Holland Christian Maroons

Last Season: 10-9, lost in District Finals

Head Coach: Brad Jansen (2nd Season at HC, 10th Season Overall)

Key Returners: Adam Kroeze (6’3” Sr, 10 PPG, 3 APG); Ben Nelson (6’8” Sr); Jalen Overway (6’9” Sr, 18 PPG, 10 RPG, 2 BPG)

Notable Newcomers: Caleb Karsten (6’3” Soph); Carter Spencer (5’10” Jr); Kyle Cannon (6’2” Jr)

Outlook: The Maroons return three key players from last year’s District Runner-Ups, including Jalen Overway, one of the area’s top players. In typical Holland Christian fashion, this is a big and strong crew, something that Jansen will rely on in all phases of the game. The rest of the group is inexperienced at the varsity level, but Jansen believes that they complement the Maroons’ bigs very well.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 at Calvin Christian


Holton Red Devils

Last Season: 15-6, lost in District Finals

Head Coach: Keith Swanson (2nd Season, 15-6)

Key Returners: Austin Fowler (6’0” Sr, 5 PPG); Bret Hosmer (5’11” Sr); Carter Brant (5’10” Soph, 5 PPG, 3 APG); Kevin Erickson (5’11); Wyatt Monette (6’1” Sr, 11 PPG, 5 RPG)

Notable Newcomers: Cam McAllister (6’0” Sr); Chase Albright (5’10” Jr); James Hunter (5’11” Sr); Rice Robins (6’0” Sr)

Outlook: The Red Devils completed a perfect CSAA Silver slate last winter, before falling in the District Finals to North Muskegon. Holton returns some valuable pieces to their lineup, and they will feature strong guard play. They need to overcome some issues in the post, as they will be a bit undersized, but many of these players bring some grit and toughness from their successful football season. “This is a senior heavy group that has been working hard and is focused on going out with as much success as possible,” Swanson shared. “Wyatt Monette is going to be one of the best players in our area this season. I am also looking forward to seeing the jumps taken by Brant and Fowler.”

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Tri-County


Hopkins Vikings

Last Season: 11-8, lost in Regional Finals

Head Coach: Jake Jewett (5th Season)

Key Returners: Cody Veldhouse (6’5 Sr); Jayden Prather (5’10” Jr); Josh Tew (6’1” Sr); Trent Baugh (5’10” Jr)

Notable Newcomers: Miles Gibson (5’11” Jr); Zander Hitzler (5’10” Jr)

Outlook: The Vikings finished second in OK Silver play, before embarking on a thrilling run to the Regional Finals. After four captivating victories in the opening rounds, they lost by seven to Benton Harbor in the regional title bout. This team is fast. They have a quickness and burst throughout their lineup, allowing Hopkins to defend at a high level. Jewett believes this will help them turn defense into offense, while running the floor well in transition. With only two seniors on the roster, Hopkins will need to gain experience throughout the regular season, but they play a schedule that should give the team plenty of learning opportunities.

First Game: Friday 12/10 vs Wayland


Kent City Eagles

Last Season: 8-9, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: David Ingles (7th Season at Kent City, 11th Season Overall)

Key Returners: Hayden Carlson (5’9” Sr, 13 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2 SPG); Kyler Larson (6’0” Jr, 16 PPG, 7 RPG, 2 APG)

Notable Newcomers: Carter Magoon (5’10” Sr); Seth Vanderwest (6’3” Jr); Will Harrison (6’0” Jr)

Outlook: This Eagles team has a great 1-2 punch in Carlson and Larson. Both can score in bunches, as they play their third season of varsity basketball. Unfortunately, the Eagles will be without Thomas Swanson for most if not all of the season, as their returning starting center suffered a knee injury. This is a good shooting team that passes the ball well. Ingles shared that there is an emphasis on improving the defensive and rebounding efforts, two things that could help propel them in CSAA-Silver play.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 at Grant


Mona Shores Sailors

Last Season: 2-15, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Brad Kurth (2nd Season, 2-15)

Key Returners: Demetri Roberson (6’0” Sr); Donovan Russell (6’8” Sr); Ethan Krueger (6’7” Sr); Keontae Richards (5’10” Sr); Parker Swartz (6’6” Jr)

Notable Newcomers: Jake Southland (6’1”); Jordan Bledsoe (5’11” Fr)

Outlook: Kurth, who has had success as a girls’ basketball coach, has his Sailors poised for improvement in 2021-22. Mona Shores returns four starters, as well as their sixth man (Roberson). Swartz stirs the drink on this team, leading the team in scoring and four other stat categories a year ago. He impressed many in AAU play this summer as well. He is joined at the guard position by Richards, who shot 43% from deep a year ago. Krueger and Russell have received Division 3 college offers as impact players, while Roberson brings the athleticism and tenacity we observed on the gridiron this fall. “This is the first year I have been able to put a system in, due to COVID”, Kurth explained. “We have tremendous size mixed with athleticism and shooting. It’s a good core group to usher in a new era of Sailor basketball.”

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Grandville


North Muskegon Norsemen

Last Season: 10-9, lost in Regional Finals

Head Coach: Chuck Rypstra (8th season)

Key Returners: Denny Belmonte (6’0” Jr); Troy McManus (6’1” Jr, 12 PPG)

Notable Newcomers: Bo Nedeau (6’0” Sr); Brandon Rypstra (Jr); Jason Bogue (6’5” Sr); Sam Gallo (6’4” Jr)

Outlook: The Norsemen made a thrilling playoff run to the Regional Finals last year, falling to Covenant Christian. They return Denny Belmonte and Troy McManus, a pair of juniors that played key roles last year. They get a boost to their depth with Bogue and Nedeau coming out for their senior season. Gallo and Rypstra also expect to play key roles, while Rypstra returning from a torn ACL a season ago. The biggest question early will be lack of game experience for some of these key players, but they will get plenty of minutes before the postseason.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Muskegon Catholic Central


Ottawa Hills Bengals

Last Season: 7-11, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Derrick King Sr. (4th Season, 19-39)

Key Returners: Derrick King Jr. (Soph); Duncan Carter (Sr); Keymarion Beal; Trey Lewis (6’6”); Tyrrell Cross

Outlook: The Bengals have been building the past two seasons, and they are ready to pounce in 2021-22. With eight returning seniors, this is an experienced group with tons of chemistry. “We have high expectations, as this group has a championship mindset,” King shared. The Ottawa Hills football team experienced some newfound success this fall as well, something Keymarion Beal said will motivate them on the hardwood. “We are in great shape after playing football,” Beal expressed. “We also want to beat the teams that we lost to (in football)”. After a narrow defeat in last year’s District Semifinals, King’s Bengals are hungry for more.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Union


Rockford Rams

Last Season: 15-3, lost in District Quarterfinal

Head Coach: Kyle Clough (6th Season)

Key Returners: Charlie Deutsch (Jr); Jack Lamancusa (Sr)

Outlook: The Rams ran through the OK Red last winter, capturing their first league title since their State Runner-Up season back in 2011-12. Clough’s program will look to continue building off of that momentum, though he will have to do it with a new cast of characters. “We have as much upside as anyone out there, but it’s a batch of unproven parts”, Clough shared. “With our big-time non-conference schedule, we are going to find out a lot about this team early.” Lamancusa, a three-year starter who had a fantastic football season, will be looked to for a large leadership role this season.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 at East Grand Rapids


Shelby Tigers

Last Season: 5-12, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Rick Zoulek (37th Season)

Key Returners: Bishop Lee (6’1” Jr); Carson Claeys (5’9” Jr); Isaac Scouten (5’9” Sr); Joseph Hayes (6’1” Sr, 10 PPG); Mason Garcia (5’8” Jr)

Notable Newcomers: Wyatt Dickman (6’2” Soph)

Outlook: The Tigers have a small team in terms of numbers (9 players), but everyone has the ability to contribute. Shelby returns a good amount of experience but will mix in three sophomores and a freshman to the rotation. “If we can mesh our experience and our inexperience, we could do very well,” Zoulek shared. “We need our young guys to step up and learn quickly while getting thrown into the fire from Day 1”.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Fremont


South Christian Sailors

Last Season: 17-3, lost in Regional Semifinals

Head Coach: Jeff Meengs (8th Season)

Key Returners: Caden Oetman (Sr); Jack Schreur (Sr); Jacob DeHaan (Jr); Pieter Veldhuijzen (Sr); Sam Medendorp (Jr)

Notable Newcomers: Carson Vis (Fr); Jake Vermaas (Soph); Nate Brinks (Jr)

Outlook: The Sailors were one of the area’s best teams last year, suffering just three losses, all to Grand Rapids Catholic Central. South Christian will look to play fast and together to take advantage of the team’s depth and athleticism.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 at Grand Rapids Christian


Spring Lake Lakers

Last Season: 7-11, District Champions

Head Coach: Bill Core (21st Season, 289-157)

Key Returners: Evan McDermott (6’4” Sr, 3.9 PPG); Jackson Core (6’2” Sr, 4.6 PPG); Kaden George (6’3” Sr, 15.3 PPG); Porter Saunders (6’2” Sr, 6.5 PPG); Sam VanderHeide (6’6” Sr)

Notable Newcomers: Carter Ball (5’11” Jr); Derrick Paggeot (6’1” Jr); Eli Morrison (6’2” Soph); Jack Duggins (6’3” Jr); Zach Schlepp (6’3” Soph)

Outlook: The Lakers captured the District Championship last season, but they were unable to play in the Regional Semifinals. With eight seniors, including All-Conference player Kaden George, returning, this team has a lot of experience. An athletic and versatile group, they have plenty of length at the guard position, but they lack interior size. Spring Lake has a very difficult league and nonleague schedule, which will prepare them for district play. The Lakers will also get the advantage of defending their district title on their home floor.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Whitehall


Union Red Hawks

Last Season: 0-13

Head Coach: Brandoen Guyton (9th Season, 83-81)

Key Returners: D-Nairo Paul (6’6” Sr); Genesis Kemp (6’7” Sr); Mikeece McIntosh (6’2” Sr)

Outlook: The Red Hawks had a challenging season last year, losing all thirteen games. This winter, Union has more size and experience, and they are looking to bounce back. “We are excited for this season, as we feel we are flying under the radar,” Guyton shared. “Our experience from last year will help us as we put things together. Genesis brings another layer of experience, having played in big games while at Ypsi Prep. That should give our team a big confidence boost.” This team will certainly better its record from a year ago, while looking to return to the typical Union form as a tough matchup for any opponent.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 at Ottawa Hills


Wayland Wildcats

Last Season: 3-11, lost in District Finals

Head Coach: Chris Jasinski (3rd Season, 3-32)

Key Returners: Brady Dobry (6’3” Sr); Brett Bultsma (6’1” Jr); Elijah Maas (6’0” Jr); Reese Genther (6’0” Sr); Will Botwinski (6’3” Sr)

Notable Newcomers: Bryce Calkins (Soph); Kaharrie Purefoy (Soph)

Outlook: The Wildcats took some strides in the shortened season last winter. After an 0-21 campaign in 2019-20, Wayland put three wins on the board, including one in the postseason. This group has gained valuable experience as they look to continue to take steps toward returning to Wayland’s traditionally dominant ways. “We are athletic and play hard,” Jasinski stated.  “There is a decent core of returners from last year, as we have four juniors returning with varsity experience. With a tough conference and schedule, we need to clean up our turnovers and overcome some size disadvantages.”

First Game: Friday 12/10 at Hopkins


West Catholic Falcons

Last Season: 10-8, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Kirk Kambestad (5th Season, 39-42)

Key Returners: Caleb Tuttle (Sr); Kobe Kambestad (Sr); Michael Ignatoski (Sr); Michael Morris (Sr); Noah Arsulowicz (Sr)

Outlook: The Falcons have been building for this moment. After a 20-2 season was cancelled due to COVID with the team set to play for a District Championship, West Catholic slid back toward .500 a year ago. This summer, the team played an entire AAU slate together, building chemistry while posting a 28-2 record. They return eight players from last year’s team, including four starters. Kobe Kambestad, who prefers squash as a Thanksgiving side, is back directing this offense, but the entire senior core can produce. The Falcons will be tested in the difficult OK Blue and with some intriguing non-league opponents. Traditionally known as a football school, this senior class seeks to prove to the area that the “Boys from Bristol Avenue” can get it done on the hardwood as well.

First Game: Monday 12/6 vs Kalamazoo Hackett


West Michigan Aviation Academy Aviators

Last Season: 12-6, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Austin Riebel (1st Season at WMAA)

Key Returners: Ethan Dyksterhouse (6’6” Jr, 7 PPG, 8 RPG); Joey Riebel (6’2” Sr, 9 PPG, 5 APG); Jonas Bont (6’7” Sr, 4 PPG, 4 RPG); Luke Riebel (6’0” Soph, 7 PPG); Zakaria Mohamed (5’9” Sr, 6 PPG)

Outlook: Riebel takes over the WMAA program with a wealth of basketball experience, coaching 22 previous seasons throughout the area. His son, Joey Riebel, is a returning all-league player. Luke Riebel, his other son, will compliment him at the guard position. “Four players played AAU this summer, making a huge difference in their individual development,” Riebel remarked. “Our greatest strength is our unselfish play and togetherness.”

First Game: Monday 12/6 vs Ravenna


West Ottawa Panthers

Last Season: 13-5, lost in District Finals

Head Coach: Steve Windemuller (20th Season)

Key Returners: Brady Bosma (6’3” Sr); Colin Shriver (6’5” Sr); Kobe Haglund (5’11” Sr); Reid Reimink (6’1” Sr)

Notable Newcomers: Jackson Wiegerink (6’8” Jr)

Outlook: The Panthers finished second in the OK Red a season ago, and they made it to the District Finals, falling to a tough Zeeland East team. This year, they return one of the area’s best players in Kobe Haglund. Bosma, Reimink and Shriver provide some experience as well. Wiegerink instantly becomes one of the OK Red’s biggest post players with his 6’8” frame. Expect WO to be in the conversation as the conference begins its second loop in February.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Zeeland West


Western Michigan Christian Warriors

Last Season: 11-5, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Kurt Gruppen (6th Season)

Key Returners: Owen Varnado (6’6” Sr, 18.5 PPG, 8.2 RPG); Sam Liggett (6’2” Sr, 10 PPG, 3.5 RPG)

Outlook: The Warriors are a small bunch in numbers (just nine players), but they are a cohesive team with strong chemistry. Varnado is a potent scorer, and WMC prides themselves on defense. If this team stays healthy, and gets production out of some of their newcomers, they will be contending for the final Lakes 8 title, as well as their District title.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 vs Hart


Whitehall Vikings

Last Season: 13-4, lost in District Finals

Head Coach: Christian Subdon (1st Season)

Key Returners: Brodie Fogus (6’4” Sr); Isaac DeHart (5’10” Sr); Red Watson (5’9” Sr, 8 PPG, 4 RPG, 5 SPG)

Notable Newcomers: Camden Thompson (6’3” Fr); Jack Houtteman (5’10” Jr); Nate Bolley (5’10” Jr)

Outlook: After four seasons as the JV coach, Subdon has been tapped to lead the Vikings’ varsity team. The Vikings bring speed and physicality to the hardwood, with many of their players also strapping on the pads for their WMC title run. “We are a young team in a pretty packed WMC. We are looking to grow from game 1 to game 20,” Subdon shared. “As a team, we dedicated ourselves to improve our shooting this offseason. We have players putting in the work and developing into leaders. That is important, because a player-led team is always better than a coach-led team.”

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 at Spring Lake


Wyoming Wolves

Last Season: 7-9, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: Thom Vander Klay (28th Season)

Key Returners: Jordan Love (5’10” Sr, 11 PPG ,6 APG); Ramere Draper (6’4” Sr, 20 PPG, 11 RPG)

Notable Newcomers: Alyjah Chandler (5’10” Jr); Bernie Varnesdeel (6’1” Jr); Jaleil Holt (5’10” Jr); Quadir Hatchett (5’10” Jr); Quintin Williams (6’0” Jr)

Outlook: If you like offense, the Wyoming Wolves are for you. This crew can score with the best of them, with a full complement of shooting and speed. This starts at the top with Draper, who led the OK Green in both scoring and rebounding a year ago, and earned Honorable Mention All-State honors. Add in the guard play of Love, and a compliment of new weapons such as Wolves’ quarterback Bernie Varnesdeel, and you have a thrilling team to watch. What they have in offensive savvy, they equally lack in size. None of the seven players listed above top 6’4”, so they will need to continue to shoot well and succeed on the offensive end this winter.

First Game: Friday 12/10 at Northview


Zeeland West Dux

Last Season: 9-8, lost in District Semifinals

Head Coach: David Klyn (7th Season at Zeeland West, 9th Season Overall)

Key Returners: Kylan Arnold (6’2” Sr, 7 PPG, 3 RPG, 2 APG); Merritt Alderink (6’6” Soph, 13 PPG, 6 RPG, 1 APG)

Outlook: The Dux return a pair of key players this Winter, as they aim to finish with another winning record. Alderink was a 2nd team All-Conference player last year, while Arnold will see his role expand offensively. “This is a very coachable team that has great chemistry on and off the floor. This shows in how they share the basketball”, Klyn explained. “We have a solid mix of experience and youth that has put in a lot of work this offseason.

First Game: Tuesday 12/7 at West Ottawa