Boys varsity basketball preview: East Kentwood and Traverse City Central


The varsity basketball team kicks off its season on Friday when they pay a visit to the East Kentwood Falcons. The Falcons handed the Rangers one of their three losses on opening night last season, hitting a layup with 3 seconds left to win 68-66. East Kentwood has already played once this season, with an impressive 75-69 victory over South Christian on Tuesday night. After being down 14-3 early on, the Falcons dominated the rest of the way en route to the victory.

East Kentwood’s all-conference point guard, Ja’moni Jones, and the Rangers’ own junior Jimmy Scholler are two of the best 2020 point guards in the state. They both are drawing Division 1 interest and their play will be a key matchup in this game. Jones combined for 40 points with his backcourt mate Ryel Daye in the win over the Sailors. Christopher Brown and Etori Coates return alongside those two for the Falcons to bring loads of varsity experience to the floor.

East Kentwood has a very quick starting lineup and offensively will look to get their guards to attack the lane off of ball screens and find the open shooters. Perimeter defense will be critical for the Rangers trying to keep the speedy Falcon guards out of the lane. Last season against the Rangers, the Falcons ran a full court press and then dropped into a 2-3 zone. Outside shooters like Jimmy, seniors Josh Wise and Jay Shields, and junior Mitch Wilkinson will be critical in trying to bust the zone by knocking down three-point shots. That along with Jimmy being able to win his matchup with Jones are crucial in order for the Rangers to open the season victorious.

On Saturday morning the Rangers will board a charter bus and head north to face the Traverse City Central Trojans. Last season the Trojans handed the Rangers a devastating 66-65 loss to drop the Rangers to 0-2 early in the year. Both teams will have a game under their belt when they meet each other, as the Trojans travel to Sault Area High School on Thursday.

The Trojans are led by four-year varsity starting point guard Tobin Schwannecke who is a tremendous shooter and facilitator. He and fellow senior forward Preston Briggs combine for a devastating inside-out duo. The Trojans like to spread the ball to their shooters and also go down low to Preston often offensively. Jimmy’s matchup with the opposition’s point guard will be crucial on back-to-back nights of facing very talented players. Senior big men Daniel Deindorfer and Tate Hallock will need to step up big in dealing with Preston and the rest of the Trojans’ big front line.