Girls varsity basketball preview: East Grand Rapids Pioneers


After losing the first rivalry game of the week to Forest Hills Northern, FHC will take on its rival from the east Friday night when it hosts East Grand Rapids. The 7-3 Rangers will go toe-to-toe with the 10-2 Pioneers in another high-tension rivalry matchup.

When these two teams played last year, EGR went 2-0 against the Rangers with a pair of double-digit wins. The third-quarter slump was an issue for FHC in both matchups, as the Lady Rangers couldn’t uphold the intensity throughout four quarters. They were also severely outrebounded by East last season, which gave the Pioneers multiple second-chance points that killed FHC’s momentum.

East has had a successful season so far, with one of its statement wins coming against the very talented East Kentwood Falcons 53-49; however, the Pioneers fell to FHN 64-58 early in the season. The Rangers lost to the Huskies 52-43 earlier this week.

EGR returns four starters from last year’s 20-win season, and the Pioneers are highlighted by the Brown sisters. Senior guard Olivia Brown is a four-year varsity starter and averaged 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists last season; she hit 1,000 career points Tuesday night in EGR’s win over Wyoming. Sophomore Jillian Brown, already receiving Division 1 offers after her impressive freshman season, averaged 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists per game a season ago as a starter.

Another scoring threat from EGR is senior shooting guard Mary Schumar, who is a three-year varsity starter that averaged 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists per game last season. Mary’s shooting from behind the arc was lethal last year, and she is also a very scrappy defensive presence. The Pioneers’ leading rebounder is 6’0″ junior Amanda Grant, who will be a big force in the paint that FHC will have to counter. Olivia, Jillian, and Mary all earned all-conference honors last season in the OK Gold.

The Rangers come into this game off of a couple of the worst offensive games shooting wise; FHC shot 0% from behind the arc and less than 50% from the field in Tuesday night’s game. The key to this game against East will be running the offense to work the ball into the paint for high-percentage shots. Senior Claire Baguley is one of FHC’s strongest drivers, and she will need to find the rim early and often to earn the necessary points to keep up with the high-scoring Pioneers.

FHC’s defense will make or break this game for it, as East has an extremely potent offense that can score with any player. Preventing the Brown sisters from driving to the hoop and tight pressure on Mary Schumar so that she isn’t able to shoot from outside will be key if the Rangers will be able to pull off an upset Friday night. Look for a scrappy game that could go either way if FHC can play to potential.