Battles for The Top Spot in the O-K Red and Blue


By: Nate Dreyer


Winter weather has continued to wreak havoc on the schedule the last couple of weeks, including this past Tuesday, as multiple games got pushed back a day or even later. Including Hudsonville and Rockford who switched venues and played an OT thriller that the Rams came from behind to win and set up a massive battle for the top spot in the O-K Red boys (and girls) standings.


EK vs Rockford For the Top Spot (Times Two)


East Kentwood is the place to be Friday night on MSR, as both boys and girls matchups will feature teams with perfect conference records going for the top spot in the ‘Red’. The boys contest opens the night, after the Falcons took down Grandville on the road Tuesday and the Rams overtook Hudsonville (also on the road) a night later. 


Both teams are unbeaten and will provide an incredible tactical battle. Both teams boast accomplished head coaches known for their mixing X’s and O’s. The Falcons feature an up-tempo, high flying attack with top-level skill and athletes consistently turning defense and opponent mistakes into easy offense out of their ‘all-out-blitz’ full court or half court press that they turn up the intensity on as the game goes along. 


Rockford features a depth of good shooting and athletes of their own and have proven an ability to play at numerous different paces and styles. Look for the Rams to break out some half-court zone defenses and ¾ court traps to try and slow the EK attack. The PG vs. PG matchup of Rockford’s Andrew Landis vs. East Kentwood’s Jah Hatchett will be one of several massive head-to-head battles to watch in this one. 


The Girls game to follow also features a pair of unbeatens in the O-K Red looking to stay atop the heap. Coach Wilson’s Lady Rams have been ranked in the top two of the coach’s poll in the state all season long and have rolled to an unbeaten 10-0 mark, as they look to repeat as state champions. The Rams defense has hit another level in conference play, only allowing over 30 points in one of their 4 contests, including only giving up 25 last time out vs. 2021 state champion, Hudsonville.


The EK girls, like their boys team, feature a ferocious full-court defense, a two-point loss to Lowell is the only blemish on the Falcons’ 9-1 record. Their full court pressure has helped lead to a highly efficient offense off of that as well, as the Falcons have scored 69 or more points in their last three games. 


Both games will have live video coverage, with our Joey Sutherlin. Tune in live at 5:45.


More Action at EK


This weekend also will bring the annual GottaGetIt Hoops classic from EK that is annually put on by Falcons’ HC, Mike Thomas. Joey Sutherlin will also be there with coverage of two premier matchups. 


At 5:10, Northview, fresh off an impressive win earlier this week vs. FHC; will take on perennial powerhouse, Detroit MLK. Then to close the evening at 8:40, the host Falcons take the floor in a possible deep-playoff-preview against East Lansing, a squad that has returned almost all of their pieces from a team that fell one game short of the Breslin Center a year ago.


Battle for the Blue


The top spot in the O-K Blue is also up for grabs in boys basketball on MSR, as Coopersville and Unity Christian tip-off in Coopersville. Both teams are unbeaten coming into the game within conference play. Like in the OK-Red battle, this will also be a high-level tactical matchup between a pair of very talented, and smart rosters and coaches. 


The ‘Saders of U.C. and multi-time state champion HC Scott Soodsma, will bring their up-tempo and pressing full court and trapping half court zone to the table, looking to ride the wave of momentum off their win over 2023 O-K Blue champion, Hamilton, on Tuesday.


Coach Pete VanKempen and the Broncos have been one of West Michigan’s best defensive teams (again) this year out of their tough-to-crack zone and methodical and efficient offensive approach. The Broncos have allowed less than 40 points in each of their last three games, and only surrendered 42 in their O-K Blue opener before that stretch to Holland Christian. 


The Broncos radio crew will also have coverage of the girls contest in that one, boys tip off first at 6:00pm and coverage begins at 5:40!


Bulldog Bounce back?


After a flying 8-1 start, the Grandville Bulldogs boys have now dropped back-to-back tough contests against the unbeaten O-K Red duo of East Kentwood and Rockford. They will look to bounce-back against a very new look Caledonia team under first-year head coach Lamar Chapman.


Chapman spent nearly a decade as an assistant coach at the NCAA D1 level, including a stint in 2021 as the interim HC at Northern Illinois. The Muskegon Heights grad has a unique mix of talent on his first Fighting Scots roster, featuring a pair of senior returning leaders in Kyan VanderWoude and Jaiden Googins, a duo of transfers from rival East Kentwood, and four freshmen. The Scots sit at 6-4 and won the last time out against Jenison, to capture their first O-K Red win. 


Grandville has watched their rotation evolve in recent weeks around GVSU signee Cam Regnerus, with the standout play of Freshman PG Carter Wade. Who after missing the opening weeks of the season with an injury, has put up 10 or more points in three of the Bulldogs last four games and earned the start vs. East Kentwood.


 It’ll be a truly fascinating game to open the night at Vanderslice Gymnasium. The GAME NIGHT on Michigan Sports Radio crew will have video coverage of that game, along with the girls game to follow. Coverage begins at 5:30 with boys tip-off at 6:00!


Catholic Central DH


The MSR Catholic Central broadcast team will be in downtown GR for a boys/girls doubleheader as well as Cedar Springs is in town. 


The boys game starts off the evening and Durral Brooks and the ‘Cougs boys look for a fifth-straight win to open O-K Gold play. Cedar Springs is looking for a stand-out upset win on the road, the Red Hawks sit at 3-8 overall and have lost their last two vs. C.C.’s conference title rival South Christian and standout scorer Craig Hureskin and Ottawa Hills. 


The following girls matchup should provide excellent action, as the Red Hawks girls have been among the area’s best – off to a 9-1 start. Their lone loss came in conference play to Kenowa Hills and puts them one game back of Catholic Central. The C.C. girls are 6-4 on the year, but have been a perfect 4-0 in conference and currently sit alone at the top of a very crowded mix at 3-1 and 2-2 in the conference chase beneath them.


Video coverage begins at 5:40pm, with the boys tipping-off at 6:00 and the girls following that at approximately 7:30. 


Battles in Big Rapids


Central Montcalm and Big Rapids also will be in action in boys and girls action on Michigan Sports Radio in CSAA action. The girls take to the floor first, as Big Rapids looks to keep their 4-3 record above .500 and win a fifth-straight to stay in the top spot in the conference chase. The Hornets girls from Central Montcalm will look to correct a little bit of the reverse story, as they have now lost four straight to fall below .500 by a game.


Following that 6:00 tip, the Big Rapids boys will look to stretch their solid 7-3 start, and restart a winning streak, after they dropped one to Cadillac last time out – breaking a five-game winning stream that preceded the loss. The Central Montcalm boys have now dropped four straight and are looking to get back on the right track, especially after dropping a tough one in OT to West Michigan Aviation Academy in their last contest. 


Coverage begins at 5:35pm, with the girls game tipping at 6:00, and the boys following that. 



It’s a packed night of action on MSR, be sure to tune in across the network and keep an eye on everything going on. And check back in for other results, schedules and stranding from across the area – here here on Michigan Sports Radio.