Boys varsity basketball preview: East Grand Rapids Pioneers


The boys varsity basketball team enters an intriguing non-conference matchup against the East Grand Rapids Pioneers on the heels of its toughest loss of the season. The Rangers fell by 8 points Tuesday night in a hard-fought game to their arch rival, the Forest Hills Northern Huskies.

The Pioneers come into this game at 6-6, and the Rangers will be looking for payback; last season after beating them in the regular season, the Rangers fell to EGR in the first round of district play, spoiling an 18-game win streak and all the hopes the Rangers had for a long run in the playoffs.

The Pioneers’ 6-6 record is very misleading, as they have played one of the toughest schedules in the area. They suffered tough non-conference losses to the likes of Hudsonville, Rockford, and Forest Hills Northern, as well as a loss to the best team in the Pioneers’ conference, Grand Rapids Christian. They have two very impressive wins over East Kentwood, who beat the Rangers by 17 points earlier in the season, and Wyoming.

East is led by senior do-it-all point guard Jalen Broussard. He is one of the best point guards in the West Michigan area and played well against the Rangers in both matchups last season. Fellow guards in senior Jack Ward and junior Jack Sheridan help to form a talented backcourt.

The Pioneers have a lot of length along their front line in the form of senior center Owen DeLong and junior stretch forward Oskar Ollson. Oskar Ollson can play a lot on the perimeter and is a tremendous shooter, which helps to stretch out the opposing defenses. The Pioneers love to let Owen Broussard make plays off the dribble; if he can get into the lane easily to both set up his teammates and score, the Rangers will be in for a long night.

One of the matchups to watch will be the battle of the bigs in East’s Owen DeLong and the Rangers’ senior big man Dan Deindorfer. DeLong at 6’7 provides a lot of length for Dan to have to score over. Dan has been a monster of late for the Rangers, however, as he is averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds over the course of his last three games. The Rangers have thrown the ball down low to him a lot recently, and it has paid dividends. Dan has done a great job of finishing through contact and drawing fouls, but going up against DeLong will provide a stiff test for Dan.

The other matchup to watch will be the point guard battle. East’s Jalen Broussard will provide a big test for the Rangers’ junior point guard Jimmy Scholler. Both are players that like to get in the lane to both score and set up their teammates for easy buckets. Both are very good defenders and will more than likely defend one another. Whichever of the two can outplay the other will put their team in a great position to win.

The biggest key to this game will be the role players for the Rangers. The Rangers are averaging 61 points per game and 47 of those come from Jimmy, Dan, and junior guard Mitch Wilkinson. The Rangers will need the two other starters, seniors Jake Ball and Josh Wise, along with seniors Jay Shields and Tate Hallock off the bench, to be able to be serious scoring threats. If the Rangers can get at least 20 points from those four players combined, they will have a great chance to improve to 8-4.