By: Nate Dreyer
Photo courtesy of Miles Postema
The O-K Red battle in both girls and boys basketball has been red hot all season, and Friday night had a chance to be a tipping point in the direction of the battle.
Rockford Boys Reign By Two Over the Red
On the boys side, Rockford entered the night with a tenuous one-game advantage – earned by an unbeaten conference season and head-to-head win over East Kentwood, that handed the Falcons their only league loss. Grandville came in two games back of that mark with two conference losses and Hudsonville a game back of Grandville’s pace.
The Bulldogs hosted the Rams as the Falcons gave host to the Eagles on a Friday that had a chance to shake things up immensely, with all four teams coming in playing well after wins on Tuesday.
East Kentwood and Hudsonville would play first, as they hosted an early-game tip-off, before Grandville/Rockford would tip hours later on the back third of a girls/unified/boys triple-header at Grandville.
It was a wild and emotionally-charged environment in the ‘raptor battle’ at EK, with Hudsonville and Kentwood trading the lead back-and-forth before it was Hudsonville taking the second half advantage and hanging on to a 56-48 win. The Eagles were led by their Tiffin University-Committed senior point guard, Brayden Szamrej – who had 14 points.
With that result, East Kentwood now fell to two in the loss column and Hudsonville stayed at three… And put increased focus on Grandville/Rockford, as Grandville has a chance to make it a true 4-horse race at the top, while the Rams could look for a 2-game advantage looking down at the rest of the conference with four games to play.
It was Rockford from the start in an equally emotionally-charged environment at Grandville. The Rams jumped out to a 22-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and held on as the Bulldogs slowly chipped away at the advantage throughout the final three quarters. Grandville got the lead down to 7 at the half-way point of the fourth quarter, but the Rams were able to expertly hold the ball and bleed clock on their final possessions to hang on to a 63-55 win. Andrew Landis led the way with 16 points for the Rams, Drake Irwin had 15 (12 of which came in the first quarter). Cam Regnerus led all scorers with a 19 point effort in the loss.
The game is just the second time all season Grandville has allowed 60+ points in a game. The other game? The ‘Dawgs first meeting with Rockford, when Rockford score 61.
The win now puts the Rams at a perfect 10-0 in the O-K Red and on a 13-game win-streak overall. Grandville now falls into the third-place tie with 3 in the loss column with Hudsonville.
Rams and Falcons Girls Hold Serve
The girls battle in the O-K Red has been focused on a horse race between East Kentwood and Rockford. The Falcons hold the head-to-head win, but their loss a week ago to West Ottawa has put the race back into a spot where both state title frontrunners have a chance to control their own destiny – leading up to their next head-to-head on Friday night.
Both teams were able to ‘hold serve’ and pick up wins on Friday, as East Kentwood controlled Hudsonville 63-49 to earn a split on the evening between the Falcon and Eagles girls/boys programs. Kentwood is now 14-2 on the season.
Rockford fought a tighter-than-expected game through the first two quarters vs. 4-win Grandville, as the Bulldogs kept the Rams advantage within single digits at the half, before the Rams upped the intensity to run out to a 62-27 win, led by Anna Wypych with 20 points.
The game was a masterclass of showing the way the Rams can control a second half under coach Brad Wilson as they used a wide mix of different looks, especially on the defensive side of the ball including: full & half court 1-3-1 and 2-1-2 trapping looks, a 2-3 half court zone, some full court havoc trapping zone & switching man-to-man defense down the stretch.
West Ottawa took down Grand Haven on Friday to take solo possession of 3rd at 7-3 in the ‘Red’, 2 games back of the EK/Rockford tie at the top.
Coopersville Sets Records in Impressive Hamilton Win
With conference unbeaten leader Unity Christian taking down Fruitport Friday, it became increasingly important for Coopersville to complete the season sweep of the Hawkeyes on their home floor Friday. And the ‘Coop’ boys certainly answered that bell, as the Broncos controlled the Hawkeyes start-to-finish to earn a 65-43 win.
It was a record-setting night for Broncos guard Eli Spencer, as he hit a school record nine three-pointers to rack up 33 points in the win. Coopersville hosts Fruitport on Tuesday, before going to Unity Christian for the rematch and a chance to tie the ‘Saders at the top of the league on Friday. Both games can be found live on MSR.
The Coopersville girls were able to make it a clean sweep of the night as they took down the Hamilton girls 43-37, tying Coopersville at 5-5 with Unity Christian for fourth in the O-K Blue.
Catholic Central Continues Winning – Stays Perfect in the O-K Gold
The MSR Catholic Central crew has been covering a lot of wins lately, as both the G.R.C.C. boys and girls have been perfect on the season in league play and it was another win on MSR air Friday, as we covered the boys contest against Kenowa Hills.
Durral Brooks returned to the lineup and returned to his winning ways, as the Michigan-committed senior put up 26 points to lead the way in a 75-47 win over the Knights.
The Cougars are now a perfect 10-0 in the O-K Gold, sitting 2 games clear of nearest challenger, South Chrisitian, whom they have already beaten twicer this year. Another perfect week next week, could put C.C. in position to capture the league title a week from Tuesday, even without any help from lower in the standings.
Other Notable Results & Notes
*The area’s two top teams met in the first of two games in less than a week on Friday as GR Christian and Northview faced-off at Calvin’s Van Noord Arena. It was a tight, defense-first, back-and-forth affair (as expected) through the first three quarters with the two teams swapping the lead.
But,it would be the Eagles of GRC that would dominate a fast-moving and offense-first final frame played more at their preferred style than the methodical Wildcats. After a 37-36 game after three, the Eagles ran it out in the fourth, notching a 54-43 win and tying Northview back up at the top of the O-K White, after the eagles suffered an upset loss Tuesday vs. Byron Center.
Toledo signee Jaylan Ouwinga led the Eagles with 17 points in the win, while the Wildcats were led by a future D1 start of their own in Cam Ryans, who plugged in 23 points. After each playing another O-K White game on Tuesday, the ‘Cats and Eagles will play again on Wednesday in a rematch from earlier in the season, this time shifting the game to be played at Northview.
*Zeeland West and Zeeland East played one of the best games of the year in the first version of the ‘bird bowl’ back in January. This time around, Zeeland West would again jump out to a big lead like the first time around, but they would not relent that advantage at any point this time. As the Dux came away with a road win at East, in big fashion, 70-43. Myles Steffen put together one of his best games, with 20 points. Luke Bakker chipped in 17, and Will VerSteeg had 11 to lead the Chix.
*Elsewhere in the O-K Green, Muskegon would bounce back, in a big way, in their second meeting against Reeths-Puffer to even the score at one-loss a piece (to each other) at the top of the conference, with Zeeland West now just a game back of that mark. The Big Reds stifled the normally dangerous Rockets offense for a 48-28 road win.
Muskegon Small Forward Justin Watson led the way for the big reds, with his typical red-hot shooting, as he had 14 on the strength of four made 3-pointers.The Big Reds will play each of the Zeeland teams next week, including a big trip to West on Friday Night. Reeths-Puffer will play Wyoming and GR Union next week.
Check back in before the games Tuesday for another preview of all the big matchups that you’ll be able to catch live on MSR! And , in the meantime, check out the current standings and take a look at what games are coming up on everyone’s schedule, as we get into the final two week chase for the boys and girls conference championships!
Next Sunday, the boys district seedings and matchups will be released, so, this week will present the final chance for all of the teams to improve their positioning.