By: Nate Dreyer

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Klocke


The race for the O-K Gold could be decided at GR Catholic Central Friday. GRCC now sits at 6-0 in the conference and is riding a seven-game win streak to lead the conference on the strength of winning the opening game of conference play on the road over South Christian, 57-54, back in January.


The second meeting of the long-time rivals this time switches to downtown GR off of Division Avenue, as Catholic Central has a chance to sweep and take a commanding two-game lead in the conference chase with a pair of head-to-head wins over the Sailors. 


The main X-Factor will be the health of the Cougars, as leading players Durral Brooks and Zay Larthridge have been battling injuries over the past few games, they serve as the top two scorers for C.C. this season. Brooks is expected to be back sooner rather than later (& likely will draw into the lineup Friday), but Larthridge could wind up missing multiple more weeks. The play of the youngest Catholic Central attackers have helped provide a boost in the loss of Brooks and Larthridge, as sophomores like Jordan McCoy have stepped into bigger roles controlling the offense.


South Christian’s lone slip in conference play came in the close loss to their rival back in early January. They also fell to Grand Blanc at the GottaGetIt Showcase at East Kentwood on January 20. Besides that, the Sailors have set sail again, as they look for a return to the D2 state championship game. 


Coverage begins with Eric Wells and Joe Lavoie at 5:40, beginning with coverage of the girls game, as the Catholic Central ladies look to stay alone at the top of the O-K Gold – currently at 7-0 and holding an edge over 5-2 Cedar Springs and Wayland. 


The boys game follows at approximately 7:30, as we’ll see if the O-K Gold battle rolls on to a thrilling second half, or if Catholic Central can take complete control.


Catholic Central will also be back in action on MSR Saturday, as they play at the 2K24 Showcase against Lima (OH). Coverage for that one begins at 4:10pm.


Coopersville & HC Jockey for O-K Blue Position 


The O-K Blue in boys basketball has settled into the control of Unity Christian after the first run through conference play, they sit at 7-0 in the conference. Hot on their heels, only a game back is Coopersville. The Broncos sit at 6-1, with that loss coming in the head-to-head with the ‘Saders, they have to travel to the vaunted Holland Civic Center on Friday to take on Holland Christian. The Maroons are 4-3 in the conference. But all three losses came by single digits (including a 4-point loss to UC and 9-point loss to Coopersville).


Coopersville comes in off a dominant win over Kenowa Hills in Tuesday non-conference action, as they picked up a 61-36 win over the Knights. Junior guard Judah Bartels led the team with 12 points in a typical balanced scoring and great defense-led night for the Broncos. Holland Christian will be needing to adjust their expected style of pace after they fell 51-49 Tuesday vs. ‘run-and-gun’ full-court-attacking Wyoming, and now have to prepare for the methodical dribble drive offense and zone defense-led Broncos. 


Coverage begins from the always-packed Civic Center at 5:40pm. Boys tip-off at 6:00 and the girls game will follow!


Alliance League Rivalry Decider


The GAME NIGHT on Michigan Sports Radio crew will present a fun small-school battle featuring a pair of rivals in the Alliance League that each currently sit at 2-0 in the league and are set to play a possible conference-determining game, as Tri-Unity and Godfrey Lee have a cross-town clash from Tri-Unity.


Legendary coach Mark Keeler has a full handful of state titles over 36 seasons and is looking for a fourth-straight trip to the state championship game in D4 this year. The Defenders are aptly named (as ever), as again they feature one of the area’s best defenses, despite playing a loaded schedule with top teams from higher divisions. Tri-Unity allows only 39.6 points per game in the 2023-24 season. 


The Defenders have several highly-experienced players that have now made 2+ runs to the Breslin Center, including seniors Jordan VanKlompenberg and Owen Rosendall. The next star for the Defenders from the Kaman family is senior wing Wesley Kaman, who provides a balanced scoring attack and is among the best defenders on and off the ball for Tri-Unity. They will look to bounce back after suffering a buzzer-beater loss to D3 Schoolcraft on Tuesday.


Wyoming Lee presents a different style and a true underdog attitude that led them to a win over their Tri-Unity rivals last season. Coach Dominic Shannon’s team goes only 8-deep, but they are willing to run-and-gun with the best of them – completely contrasti the methodical and grinding defense-first Defender attack. 


Senior Marc Whitfield leads their attack as a crafty multi-level scorer that has now put up 30 points in three of his last five games. The roster technically lists seven players a guards and a lone ‘wing’, in senior Ny’Zhem Marshall – who at 6 ‘4 will defend the paint with athleticism and tenacity on one end and score from the perimeter and at the rim in the Legends typical five-out spread attack on offense. 


Coverage begins at 6:30 with MGN ‘Radio+’ coverage, tip-off is set for approximately 7:00pm.


Rockford & Caledonia Reconvene 


The Rams are rolling, in both boys and girls play. The Rams boys are undefeated in the O-K Red after the first run through conference play, and despite an East Kentwood loss, the Rockford girls, off the strength of their win at Calvin last Saturday vs. reigning D2 champ Lansing Catholic, are beginning a true march toward defending their State Championship from last season. 


Caledonia comes to Rockford Friday, trying to find some momentum in both games – and upsets in either could go a long way. Coach Chapman’s Scot boys picked up a solid win over Forest Hills Northern on Tuesday in non-con action and now look to upset the top of the Red if they can pick up a win on the road. The Rams took the first meeting 76-64 in a relatively up-tempo game that we will likely see again Friday, the Scots four freshmen on their varsity roster will continue to provide an X-Factor, as they gain more experience into the second half of the season.


After a 2-3 start, Rockford has now won 10-straight dating back to December and the Zeeland Holiday Showcase. They bolstered that with a convincing win over EGR Tuesday and have been led by their own youth movement as sophomore standout F Jake Bascom and G Dylan Gross have been taking turns as the Rams’ leading scorer for several of the Rams games over the past couple of weeks. 


The Rockford girls have fully righted the ship after watching their 33-game win streak snapped by EK last month, as they’ve now won three straight and are looking to start off the second half of conference play on the right foot in their continued march back to the Breslin.


Boys Tip off from Rockford is at 6:00, with the girls closing the action to close the night after.


Central Montcalm vs. Lakeview Doubleheader


Central Montcalm is in the midst of a truly busy week, as their boys are playing their fourth game in five days on Friday and their girls are playing their third of the week, as they travel to Lakeview for the doubleheader. Our Hornets Radio crew has the action of both games, starting at 5:35 – with girls tip at 600 and boys to follow!


Check in at the end of the weekend as we’ll be back to recap some of these deciding games live on MSR and other great ones from across the area. And, as always, keep up with everything from live games, results, schedules, standings & more from your leader in HS Sports coverage –