Boys JV basketball goes 1-1 against East Kentwood and Traverse City Central

Tommy Spaletto

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Coming off an OK White Championship season last year, the boys JV basketball team hoped to continue its success against the East Kentwood Falcons Friday night and the Traverse City Central Trojans the very next day. FHC fell to EK by a score of 64-38 and defeated the Trojans in a thriller 55-53.

Big contributors against EK were sophomores Jonah Spates, who led all scorers with 10 points, Dallas Hopson with 7 points, along with Carson Mocherman and Jeremy James with 6 points each. Against TCC, Dallas paved the way with 15 points and got some help from Jonah and sophomore Peyton Bush down the stretch. The Rangers now focus on their Thursday game against the Grandville Bulldogs, which will be another non-conference test for this team.

East Kentwood got off to a very hot start, jumping out to an early 14-5 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Falcons forced many Ranger turnovers and got a lot of points off of their press and physical full-court defense. The sole offensive scoring came from sophomores Matthew Mahoney, Jonah, and a free throw from Carson.

The second quarter was better offensively from the Rangers, and the team seemed much more composed and could execute its offense better. However, FHC could not find a way to stop the EK offense completely. The Falcons were able to get a lot of second-chance points, which wore the Rangers down on the defensive end. A couple of baskets from Dallas and an incredible half-court heave from Jonah gave FHC momentum into halftime down 26-16.

“We played within our confines better and did not allow their pressure to dictate how we wanted to play,” said head coach Kevin Banner about a much better second quarter from his squad. “[We] caught a little rhythm for a stretch and hit a half-court shot.”

In the second half, transition defense killed the Rangers. The Falcons came out hot offensively and got a lot of transition points, taking advantage of FHC not getting back on defense. East Kentwood continued to get most of their points in the paint, as they had been all game. What didn’t help FHC’s chances was their cold shooting, as they only shot 29.5% on the night. The Rangers fell to the Falcons 64-38 and looked to pick up a win against Traverse City Central the next day.

Saturday’s game in Traverse City looked very different than the previous night. The Trojans didn’t have as much defensive pressure as East Kentwood, so that may be a reason why the Rangers got more open looks which led to more made shots. In the first quarter, FHC came out hot beyond the arc thanks to Jonah Spates and Dallas Hopson, as FHC led the Trojans 15-11 after one.

In the second quarter, FHC had a hard time stopping Trojan sophomore Garrett Goku, as he hit three big-time threes to keep Traverse City Central in the game. In a back-and-forth second quarter, the Rangers were able to match the hot hands of the Trojans with some great shooting of their own. Traverse City Central closed FHC’s lead and the Rangers led 28-26 going into the second half.

The second half was very competitive. FHC would go on a run, and then the Trojans would counter with a run of their own. But after two missed free throws from Maguire Mahacek, Dallas Hopson got his moment. On a tip from Matthew Mahoney and a pass from Maguire, Dallas knocked down an enormous three-pointer from beyond the arc to put the Rangers up 55-53 with 3 seconds left and give them the win.

“I felt extremely happy when the shot went in,” Dallas said. “I knew it would probably be the shot to win the long and tiring game.”

This win puts the Rangers at 1-1 and makes Thursday’s game on the road against Grandville an important one, as the team hopes to avoid going below .500. To get this win, FHC will need to continue playing as a team and play better defense than they did this weekend. If the Rangers can do both these things plus fire on all cylinders on offense, look for a statement win from this team on Thursday.

“We just need to keep playing together,” Jonah said. “If we can do that I think we will be fine in the long run.”