By: Nate Dreyer
The battle for the ‘big school conference’ in west Michigan – the O-K Red – has been brewing on both the boys and girls side of the draw all season long. And Friday, Michigan Sports Radio will have live coverage from Grandville and East Kentwood as the hosting Bulldogs and Falcons respectively host Rockford and Hudsonville on a night that the conference race could be turned on its head!
The Rivalry: Triple-Header
Vanderslice Gymnasium will be rocking Friday, as the GAME NIGHT on MSR crew will be live for complete video coverage of a unique triple-header of coverage. As we also will have a fun live presentation of Special Olympics Unified basketball between the girls and boys contests.
The girls will open the night with a 5:30pm tip-off, following the start of our coverage at the top-of-the-hour at 5:00. The Rams have been on the shortest of lists of the state’s elite this year as they look to capture back-to-back state titles. And, with East Kentwood’s earlier loss to West Ottawa, the Rams are back to controlling their own destiny, and have now rattled off six-straight wins after dropping a heartbreaker to East Kentwood.
The Grandville girls have been playing some of their best basketball as of late, after winning twice last week and nearly pulling the upset over West Ottawa on Tuesday night. It will be a tall task for coach Mike VanHekken and star guard Gracie Rakowsky and the Bulldogs – But, it’s a rivalry night and the Bulldogs have already come close to knocking off the likes of Hudsonville and West Ottawa.
Following the Special Olympics Unified game coverage after the girls contest, the boys are set to tip-off at approximately 7:45pm for a rematch of a 61-51 Rockford win the first time around. That win was part of a streak that has now stretched to 12-straight wins for the high-flying Rams. That 61 was also the only time all season the Bulldogs and their stingy defense have allowed north of 60 points in a game this season.
The Grandville boys had a surprising struggle with West Ottawa on Tuesday, as they were able to survive, 50-48, on an OT buzzer-beater from GVSU-signed big man Cam Regnerus.
(Final Shot, as seen on MGN: https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3CDvxqMTnK/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link).
Despite the offensive struggle on Tuesday, Grandville is also one of the hottest teams in the ‘Red’ as of late and currently sit 2 games back of the Rams and looking to recreate last year’s results – as each team defended their home floor.
GAME NIGHT is live at 5:00pm, with girls tip-off at 5:30, Special Olympics Unified at 7:00, and the boys following that up at 7:45.
Birds of Prey Looking to Feast in Kentwood
The Eagles and Falcons play a pair of games with equal significance in the conference race to the ones in Grandville. After severe weather postponed their first matchups, these rival schools with Raptor mascots will get their first look at each other before playing again in the rescheduled game at Hudsonville on 2/19.
The boys game features the two pre-season favorites in the OK-Red, each now staring up the standings at one or more of their rivals. East Kentwood, sits at one loss in the Red (to unbeaten Rockford), but have been playing good & well-tested, basketball as of late, with losses at showcase events to West Bloomfield and East Lansing dotting the schedule (filled otherwise of wins) for the battle-tested Falcons down the stretch.
Hudsonville was able to bounce back on Tuesday with a win over Caledonia to steady themselves in solo fourth with three losses after falling in their previous two games to third-place (2 losses) Grandville and fifth-placed Grand Haven (5 losses).
Based on what happens in Grandville, this game could help set the scene for East Kentwood to rejoin Rockford at the top, or re-enter Hudsonville into a murky chase for second over the last two weeks of the season.
The girls game that follows has similar stakes to the one in Grandville as the Eagles are looking to make a statement win and get back on track in the midst of an up-and-down season for the 2021 champs. Kentwood remains in a spot to control their own destiny, and will likely need to win out before that all-important Rockford game on February 16 for a possible winner-take-all scenario.
Catholic Central Looks to Stay Perfect in the OK-Gold
It’s been a truly perfect run through now more than half of the league season for Catholic Central, as both the boys and girls Cougars have yet to suffer a loss this year in the O-K Gold and have each earned full control of the top spot in the conference.
The boys game will again have a focus on the health of the ‘Cougs, as despite their run of winning 10 of 11, they have battled injuries to leading scorers Zay Larthridge and Durral Brooks. Brooks made a one-game return vs. South Christian, scored 30, and has since been forced to return to the sidelines for the last two games.
Kenowa Hills is 7-10 overall for coach Mike Moorhead, and are coming off a tough 5-point loss on Tuesday vs. Ottawa Hills. The Knights have been retooling a bit this year after losing former star Javion Otten to GVSU, but their 2nd-year-starting sophomore PG Derek Chapin has continued to play at the high level he established as a freshman last year for the Knights.
Live coverage begins at 6:45pm.
Coopersville Continues to O-K Blue Chase
A one-time crowded mess in the O-K Blue boys standings have given way to a two-horse race. Coopersville is 15-2 overall and 8-1 in conference, that lone loss coming to Unity Chrisitan, who currently sits at a perfect 9-0 mark in the league.
Last year Hamilton stunned the Broncos, and everyone else, with a buzzer-beater heave to take down the Broncos and win the conference title. This year, the Hawkeyes have had more of an up-and-down season led by senior J.T. McIlwain – as they stand at 8-9 overall on the season and are now coming off a win Tuesday over Allendale to break a 3-game losing streak.
With Unity Christian taking on a struggling 4-13 Fruitport team, it likely will be critical for the Broncos to fend off the Hawkeyes advances to stay on pace a game back of the Crusaders.
The Coopersville and Hamilton girls will close the night in a battle of 4-5 O-K Blue records, as they look to fight out of their current 3-way tie along with Unity Christian in fourth. Live coverage starts at 5:40, with boys tip-off at 6:00 and girls to follow at 7:30.
Other Featured Action
There’s a list of other great action, you can catch live on MSR Friday. Here’s a look at some of the games we offer, and be sure to check in throughout the day in the lead-up to tip-off as some broadcasts will get added to the slate:
Central Montcalm vs. Kent City Double Header
The Hornets of Central Montcalm host the Kent City basketball program, live on MSR. First the girls game will feature the Eagles – a perennial state title contender in D3 looking to win their 7th straight, as the C.M. girls look to pull the upset and defend their home floor.
The boys game to follow featured two teams that are each at 3-4 in the CSAA, and looking to gain a better foothold for the stretch run. Coverage begins at 5:35pm with girls tipping off at 6:00, and the boys following that.
Tri-County vs. Newaygo
Tri-County also is hosting a double header live on MSR Friday. As Newaygo comes to town in another CSAA clash. The Tri-County boys have won 4 games this season, but 3 of them have come since January 23, and they’ll look to defend home court against 5-3 in conference Newaygo.
Live coverage begins at 5:45pm, with the girls game leading off the night and the boys to follow.
Check back in here Sunday, as we’ll be back with recaps of all of these games as we keep an eye out for where the dust is going to settle in the O-K Red and beyond. We’ll also wrap up other big matchups outside of the MSR broadcasted games, including the huge O-K White clash between Northview and GR Christian at Calvin University.
Results, Standings and future schedules are also available right here at MichiganSportsRadio.com, your one-stop hub for live games and everything else going on in high school sports!