By Randy Gregory, Michigan Sports Radio

Photo courtesy of Miles Postema


The girls’ basketball team from Rockford has pretty much had their way the entire season as they came into the week with a record of 17-1 and in a tie for the top spot in the OK Red with a mark of 9-1. That one blemish came in a January 19 game at East Kentwood that saw the #4 ranked team in the state rally late to top the #2 Rams 60-54 on their home court. The Falcons stumbled once since then in a loss to West Ottawa so the contest at Rockford on Friday, February 16 was going to see the winner perched atop the standings with only a single week to go. This time around it was the Rams who gradually built a ten-point lead in the third quarter and withstood a furious Falcon rally in the final quarter to claim the huge 62-54 win. Coupled with a resounding 59-38 victory over Hudsonville on Tuesday, February 13, the results left the Rams at 19-1 overall and all alone in first place in the OK Red at 11-1.


The Rams can claim the title by themselves by sweeping their final two games this week. The Rams will first host a talented West Ottawa team led by All-Stater Gabby Reynolds on Tuesday, February 20 at 6:00 P.M. They will then close out the regular season by traveling to Jenison for a 7:30 tip. The final home contest on Tuesday is Cancer Awareness Day and will see the Rams wearing special uniforms that recognize family members who are or have battled cancer.


“We made tremendous gains from the first game in several areas and that ultimately led us to coming out on top,” said Rockford Coach Brad Wilson. “East Kentwood scored in transition a lot in the first meeting and we assigned Ryan Whitford with slowing down the break and she did an excellent job. Even though we only shot an uncharacteristic 25% from the three-point line we were able to break their press and attack the basket with regularity. East Kentwood tries to get you to play faster than you are comfortable with and create turnovers but Anna (Wypych) and Sienna (Wolfe) negated the effect that press had in this game. We were outrebounded by only 35-33 and were able to get one or two more stops than they were and hit a much higher percentage from the free throw line.”


The Rams got out to an early lead but found themselves trailing for the majority of the second quarter before a big shot from Grace Lyons gave Rockford a 26-25 lead at the break. The ball was kicked out to Lyons ten feet beyond the three-point line and the senior guard did what she always does by swishing the shot just before the buzzer.


“Grace did not have a huge night on senior night offensively, but she does so many other things that are vital to the way we play the game,” said Wilson. “We play with a motto of “Horns Up” and that just means that whatever happened on the previous play (good or bad) the next play is always equally important. Grace typifies that attitude night in and night out and we are lucky to have her steadying presence.”


Rockford built that lead to 44-34 before Wypych was forced to leave with an injury. The Falcons actually drew to within two points halfway through the final quarter but the big two of Wolfe and Wypych combined to restore the margin gradually to eight points at the line and by attacking the basket off the dribble. Sophomore Wolfe led the Rams with 24 points and Wypych added 20 as they took turns asserting their dominance. Kate Higgins added eight rebounds in limited playing time as she battled foul problems all night long.


Tuesday’s contest with Hudsonville created none of the excitement of Friday’s game. The Rams jumped out to a 17-10 lead after one quarter and made it 38-12 at the half with a dominating 21-2 showing in the second quarter. That allowed Wilson to get plenty of playing time for everyone on the roster in the second half and the Rams cruised to the 59-38 triumph.


“We came out and stayed focused from the start,” said Wilson. “We came out on fire from the perimeter and also forced 26 turnovers. We pride ourselves on playing to our standards every night and always giving our best when taking on every team. I was extremely proud of our showing and effort for the entire contest.”


Sophomore Jordan Mateer led Rockford with 15 points while going a perfect 5-5 from the three-point line. Wypych added 14 and Higgins chipped in with 11 including a trio of threes. Wolfe had a relatively quiet night for her with 7.