By Randy Gregory,

Photo courtesy of Miles Postema

The boys’ basketball team at Rockford had been on an impressive run of late after reeling off five consecutive victories. But the week of January 15 loomed as a daunting road block to that streak for the Rams. The Rams were originally scheduled to host a strong Hudsonville squad on Tuesday, January 16 and travel to powerful East Kentwood on Friday, January 19. But Mother Nature exerted her iron will again and forced Rockford to travel to Hudsonville on the 17th rather than hosting them as well as trekking to East Kentwood. Most pundits hoped for a split at best as Rockford squared off with two of the top teams in the state on the road.



But somebody forgot to inform Rockford of the incredible odds facing them as the Rams posted an overtime 55-52 win over Hudsonville and followed that up by topping East Kentwood 61-56 before a large, boisterous Falcon crowd. The Rams now stand at 9-3 overall and 5-0 in OK Red action.



“It was a great week for sure,” said Rockford Coach Kyle Clough. “We had only a single day to prepare for both teams at their place and the kids really responded. We were down by as many as sixteen points against Hudsonville and just buckled down and chipped away at them. Our two sophomores (Jake Bascom and Dylan Gross) were a great spark in that game and were key parts of leading that effort. That is only the second time this season that we have faced a deficit of at least fifteen points, and the second time we have come back from that big of a hole. It was a beautiful setting with all of the bells and whistles of a new facility and our team did a great job of maintaining their composure and staying the course to come up with that win.”



Bascom led the Rams with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Gross tossed in 16 of his own and senior Andrew Landis added ten to the Ram cause.



“To be able to not rest on our laurels and come back against a physical East Kentwood team on the road two days later was also impressive.” said Clough. “They can exert tremendous pressure defensively and the team and crowd just feed off of that and make it a tremendously difficult venue. They have a pair of Division 1 players and Coach (Mike) Thomas has really created a tough environment to compete in.”



Against the Falcons, Rockford was able to jump out a huge lead early that took the crowd out of the game for an extended period. The Rams had committed only nine turnovers through three quarters against a squad that normally forces well over twenty per game. The Falcons finally turned up the pace to a frenetic level in the final quarter and forced an additional ten Ram turnovers but it was a tale of too little, too late and Rockford held on for the key 61-56 triumph.



Landis was the huge catalyst for Rockford with a red-hot start as he totaled 25 points on the night while adding 9 rebounds. Bascom added 15 points, five rebounds and three steals and Drake Irwin tossed in nine points with 12 rebounds. Gross added nine points, three assists and three rebounds and Michael DeKuiper had four points and four assists while taking a huge charge late for the Rams.



“Irwin and Bascom both had huge late layups that really proved critical to us hanging onto that lead,” said Clough. “Without Lucas (Pitsch) we were up against it from a height perspective against EK. But our three guards were really key to us hanging on for the win. I know (Andrew) Landis has been a Division 1 baseball recruit for a long time, but I think you could argue he has been playing at an All-State level on the basketball court as well. He has always been known as a shooter but he has added so much more to his game this year.”



The Rams look to build on that seven-game winning streak this week as they travel to West Ottawa on Tuesday, January 23 before returning home to square off against Jenison on Friday, January 26.