Boys varsity basketball finishes up-and-down season at 12-8


New head coach Kyle Carhart, who took over for his former high school coach, Ken George, guided the boys varsity basketball team to an up-and-down 12-8 season in his first year at the helm.

For Carhart, year number one at a new program certainly brought its challenges.

“The hardest part about year one [as a new coach] is the unknown,” Carhart said. “Stepping into a new role with a new team and a new staff is always a unique situation. The hard work from our players and our coaching staff made the transition much easier to me as a first-year head coach.”

The Rangers’ season didn’t start out the way they had hoped, as they dropped their opener to East Kentwood by 17 points. They were right back at it the next day, as they took a full-program charter bus trip to Traverse City to play Traverse City Central. After giving up 75 points the night before, the Rangers held Traverse City to just 38 for Carhart’s first win as head coach of FHC.

“The trip to Traverse City was a great experience for the whole program,” Carhart said. “Having our entire group travel together and to have all three levels succeed in their three games was fun to watch. The celebration [as a team] following the varsity win is one that I will certainly remember for quite a while.”

After a tough loss to Grandville to drop to 1-2 on the season, the Rangers were hit with adversity. Two of their starters, senior guard Josh Wise and senior forward Tate Hallock, both suffered injuries in practice and were out for the next four games. In the first three games, the Rangers had played a tight, seven-man rotation, but with two of those seven injured, others were going to have to step up.

Senior guard Tom Tomsheck, who played a combined three minutes in the first three games, stepped up big time and had the game-winning steal in a huge come-from-behind victory over FHE for the Rangers.

“When I got that steal, it felt great,” Tom said. “When Josh and Tate got injured, I knew that I was going to have to step up; defense is something I pride myself on, so it was definitely a great feeling.”

The following two weeks, the Rangers played two of their best games of the season, defeating Covenant Christian by 11 and then Rockford by 14 to capture the Cornerstone University Holiday Tournament championship. Junior guard Mitch Wilkinson was on fire in the tournament, combining to score 44 points in the two games and hit seven three-pointers en route to being named tournament MVP.

“One sign of a good program is how your players respond to a measure of adversity,” Carhart said. “Losing two players [to injury] early in the year was certainly a difficult situation. However, I was not surprised by the way our players responded. They worked hard in practice every day, they were hungry for the opportunity, and they stepped up. I was extremely excited in the way they responded.”

After a heartbreaking loss to Northview to open play in the OK White conference, FHC rattled off three straight victories before facing the stiffest test of the season in undefeated arch-rival Forest Hills Northern in the first of three meetings of the season. The Rangers played them extremely tough, but a combination of missing 12 free throws and hitting just three three-point attempts made for an 8-point loss.

“Northern was a great team this season,” junior point guard Jimmy Scholler said. “We played them tough and just got beat. They’re a really good team and are really hard to guard.”

The Rangers had their two highest-scoring showings in the next two games, both huge wins over East Grand Rapids and Greenville. Jimmy had a huge game with 28 points and 8 assists against East, and Mitch had 29 points and made five three-pointers in the victory over Greenville.

“The Greenville game was definitely a highlight of the season for me,” Mitch said. “Jimmy did such a great job of finding me all night long, and the shots just kept dropping for me.”

The Rangers entered a huge game against Northview in second place in the OK White conference, and if they wanted any shot to win the conference, they badly needed a win over the Wildcats. This game with the Wildcats was equally as heartbreaking as the first loss to Northview, as despite a 31-point, 8-rebound performance from senior forward Dan Deindorfer, Northview beat the Rangers by 3 in overtime, effectively ending any shot the Rangers had at a conference championship.

“Northview was an extremely talented group,” Carhart said. “What they were able to accomplish this year shows just how good they were. In both games with them, our guys executed our game plan and gave us an opportunity to win late in both of those games. Looking back at both games, we had an open shot to win the game. I learned a lot from both games from a coaching perspective.”

After a couple of wins came the rematch with Forest Hills Northern, a game that started a three-games-in-three-days stretch thanks to the inclement weather during the season. The Rangers were thoroughly outplayed from start to finish against the Huskies and fell by 30 points. The next night on Senior Night, the Rangers played a very sloppy game and fell to Lowell by 3.

“That two-day stretch with those losses was tough,” Jimmy said. “We just really feel like we didn’t play anywhere near our best basketball in those games.”

The Rangers finished the regular season on a high note when they beat Cedar Springs by 16. After receiving a first-round bye in the District tournament, FHC fell once more to the Huskies by 13 points and finished their season at 12-8 overall.

The future is very bright for Rangerball, as FHC returns its two leading scorers from this season in Jimmy and Mitch next year, as well as key contributor sophomore Jacob Ervin and a very talented sophomore class coming up next season.

“With the way that our returning players are excited to get back in the gym,” Carhart said, “and their want to to get to work, it is hard not to get excited for another Rangerball season at all three levels.”