Boys freshman basketball finds success despite adversity


Freshman Levi McKenzie scored a season-high for the Rangers, dropping 28 points in the game against Lowell. His leadership helped direct the freshmen to a successful season. Finishing the season with a 14-6 record, head coach Adam Monroe was content with the season, but not fully satisfied. 

“This group showed signs of taking the next step of going from a good team to a great one,” Monroe said. 

The highlight of the Rangers’ season was winning the title at the Cornerstone Holiday Hoops Tournament over winter break.

“The best moment of the year had to be the locker room after the Cornerstone Tournament following our win over Northpointe Christian,” Monroe said. “We left that locker room soaked head to toe for the second year in a row. I would not be surprised if we do not get invited back.”

The Cornerstone Tournament was not the only big win for the Rangers this season. The freshmen won their first high school game on the road against district rival Forest Hills Eastern. Due to their eighth grade success, it was clear from the start of the season that this team had the potential to be outstanding. Another big win came after freshman Jake Koning’s clutch lay-up to secure the win over Forest Hills Northern. To beat both of the district rivals is always an accomplishment.

“[We] won the privilege to be called city champs,” Monroe said.

Levi and freshman Timothee Larmande had excellent seasons. They led the team on the floor in all categories. These players have a bright future in the Rangerball program.

“Levi’s athletism and Timothee’s shooting ability helped to pull the team back into a game or stretch the lead out [many times],” Adam said. 

With this being said, other players were crucial contributors. Freshmen Sam Ardringer and Raymond Cargill were the prime examples for FHC. Captain Sam led the team in the classroom, finishing his first semester with a 4.0 GPA and zero missed classes. 

“That’s exactly what you ask for out of a captain,” Monroe said. 

Raymond was the vocal leader of the team. He always encouraged his teammates to be the best they can be. 

“Raymond was a great leader on the court,” assistant coach Matt Ellis said. “He would always help out his teammates when they needed it,” 

Jake also had a stellar season for the Rangers. He was responsible for the game-winner against Forest Hills Northern and the clincher against Ottawa Hills. He is able to get to the rim at will against his opponents and finish in difficult situations. When it comes time for tense scenarios, Jake wants the ball in his hand.

“Jake’s game-winner for us for huge,” Levi said. “It gave us a boost of energy and momentum during a tough time of the season. 

Key role players like freshmen Calvin Balanda, Jack Benner, and Arthur Pelon were great contributors to the success of the team this year. When these players came to practice, they always pushed everyone else to improve as well as themselves. 

“The improvement that those players showed from March up to now makes me think I’m doing something right as a coach,” Monroe said. “As a coach, to see the players who understand their role and thrive in it, you cannot ask for anything more.”

Monroe also gave a huge shoutout to his assistant, Matt Ellis. This is Matt’s second year in the program behind Monroe, and he is a big reason for the success that has come to their teams. He always lightens the mood when times are tough, and this helps the team get back on its feet.

“A very special thank you goes out to Coach Ellis,” Monroe said. “The amount of effort he puts into our guys is unmatched. His work did not go unnoticed.”

This year was unforgettable for the first-year players. They now have a year of experience under their belts and are in a great position heading into next year. With JV basketball up next for the freshmen, the players think that they will have no struggle with the transition.

“This year was fantastic. I am already looking forward to next year,” freshman Owen Meyer said. “I can’t wait to get back on the floor with the guys.”

Coach Monroe says that he has had so much fun throughout the year with the guys. He will miss every second of it. One of his favorite parts of the team was its ability to have fun and make jokes while still getting the work done.

“Through the ups and downs of the year, my favorite part of the day was seeing those guys in the gym,” Monroe said.