By Randy Gregory,
Photo courtesy of Miles Postema
After suffering their first loss of the season this past Friday to East Kentwood, the Rockford girls’ basketball team ran off a trifecta this past week. That included a pair of league wins (61-42 over Holland West Ottawa and 58-22 over Jenison) and a tough tilt with Lansing Catholic Central that ended in a 55-48 Ram triumph.
“Looking back after that first loss, we had some tough internal conversations about staying focused and keeping to our game plan,” said Rockford coach Brad Wilson. “And it paid dividends immediately against a very good West Ottawa team at their place. They have a great player in Gabby Reynolds and we rotated all game long as to who had the responsibility to contain her. We held her to only four points in the first half and jumped out to a big lead. She racked up some points in the second half but by that time we had the game pretty well in hand.”
Sophomore Jordan Mateer led Rockford in scoring with 17 points that included four three-pointers. Fellow sophomore Sienna Wolfe followed close behind with 16 and junior Anna Wypych was the third Ram in double figures with 11.
“We always believe that we are at our best when we have at least three players in double figures,” continued Wilson. “That was pretty much the case in every game this week and we are a tough team to beat when we get everyone involved.”
The home contest with Jenison on Friday, January 26 was an orange-out affair that highlighted mental health awareness. Rockford also brought in the teams from North and East Middle School and gave them an opportunity to talk to the coaches and players on the Rockford varsity squad for a look at what the future portends as they climb the ladder at Rockford. This contest was a blowout from the opening tip off as Rockford jumped out to a 35-6 lead at the half. That lead grew to as much as 40 points before the Wildcats made minor inroads at the end.
“We are always happy when we get the chance to get major playing time for some of our more inexperienced players,” said Wilson. “We had great ball movement and shared the ball all night long and continued to build on that lead.”
Wypych led Rockford with 16 points while Grace Lyons and Sienna Wolfe added 15 and 12 respectively as the Rams again featured a balanced attack in a dominating win.
After an extremely short turnaround, the Rams immediately returned to action the next day as they made the trip to Calvin University to take on Lansing Catholic Central. It was touted as a matchup of the defending Division 1 state champions (Rockford) and the defending Division 2 state champs (Lansing Catholic Central). The game lived up to the billing as the lead changed hands several times before the Rams made enough plays in the final minute to procure the win 55-48.
“They (Lansing Catholic) have some really good players who made big plays for them at crucial times all game long,” said Wilson. “I felt like we were going to pull away early but they kept chipping away and actually took the lead at one point in the third quarter. But we called a timeout and discussed the next-play mentality we have prided ourselves on this year. We needed to see how we were going to respond and they never quit and took control again against a team of that caliber. That was great to see and showed just how good the chemistry is for our team.”
Lansing Catholic made one final push in the final minute but Wypych made four key free throws to spearhead the Ram attack as they held on for the win. Wypych led the Rams with 23 points. Wolfe added 11 and Lyons tossed in nine as Rockford again nearly had three players in double figures.
The three wins put Rockford at 13 and 1 on the season and in second place behind East Kentwood at 6-1 in OK Red play. This week the Rams are off on Tuesday before hosting Caledonia on Friday, February 2. They will then travel to Haslett on Saturday, February 3 to square off with the Vikings in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal in MHSAA state tournament play.