Boys varsity basketball’s 15-6 season highlighted by share of OK White conference championship

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The boys varsity basketball team concluded its season with a record of 15-6 overall and an in-conference record of 11-1. Led by seniors Jimmy Scholler, Mitchell Wilkinson, Jay Wiener, and Tommy Spaletto, the team experienced a three-win improvement from last year’s 12-8 season, and it was able to become co-champions of the OK White conference alongside Forest Hills Northern.

The season didn’t start the way the team had initially hoped—it dropped its opener on the road against Forest Hills Eastern. The Hawks won the battle that continued into overtime by a score of 55-53. However, in their next game, the boys were able to reverse their fortune with a 60-48 win over the East Kentwood Falcons. Head coach Kyle Carhart preached the importance of staying focused in practice early on in the season, and this message paid off as this victory came in one of the most anticipated matchups of the season.

Everyone knew it was going to be a difficult test for us, and the guys had a great full week of practice,” said Carhart after the game. “All of them were locked in both mentally and physically throughout the entire week.”

This win would also motivate the team for the remainder of the season as this was the Rangers’ first win over East Kentwood in 12 years.

“One of our best performances was our win over East Kentwood early in the season because at that point, it showed our talent, and it was the first time we beat the Falcons in a little more than a decade,” junior Jacob Ervin said.

The Rangers then rolled into the Cornerstone Holiday Tournament hot off their previous win. They soundly defeated Allendale in their first game of the tournament 61-46 as senior Jimmy Scholler went off for 26 points. In the championship, the team got its revenge against Forest Hills Eastern to claim the title in a 66-34 win. Jimmy would post 34 points in this game, as many points as the Hawks had as a team.

After wins against Greenville, Cedar Springs, Lowell, where Mitchell dropped 24 points, and Ottawa Hills, the Rangers were riding a seven-game win streak into the first of its two matchups against Forest Hills Northern. Northern, led by juniors Ethan Erickson and Trinidad Chambliss, posed a threat to the team’s OK White championship chances. The boys were able to handle the Huskies, however, in a 65-59 victory in another game they had been looking forward to all season.

“I was most proud [of the team] when we beat Northern the first time because they are a very talented team, it was at home, and it was just cool to pull that off,” Jacob said. 

Unfortunately, a short stretch of losses came as the Rangers dropped two of their next three games; these defeats came against East Grand Rapids and Wyoming and both were away from home. They would recover with four wins against Greenville, Cedar Springs, Lowell, and Ottawa Hills again. Jimmy became the school assists leader against Greenville, and both him and Mitchell scored over 20 points against Cedar Springs, with 21 and 24 respectively. This would lead to the second meeting with Northern, but unlike the first matchup, the boys were defeated 54-50 in a game where the Rangers could’ve claimed the OK White outright.

The team bounced back again with two more wins against Northview and Grandville. In the game against Grandville, Jimmy reached 1,000 career points, an achievement only held by three other Rangers in program history.

“It really did motivate me, as it was a major goal of mine before the season. That made me work harder in the preseason and during the season. Also, I really wanted to put another statistic on the record board,” said Jimmy on how reaching 1,000 points motivated him.

The final game of the regular season was against an equally matched 15-4 Unity Christian team on Senior Night. Despite Jimmy and Mitchell both scoring in double-digits, a first-quarter deficit kept the boys from asserting a lead in the game as they lost 53-48 to the Crusaders.

In what would be the final game of the year, the team faced off against Rockford in the district round of the playoffs. A combination of Ranger shots not falling and a very high shooting percentage from the Rams ultimately led to a heartbreaking 58-54 loss to end the season.

“We had some open looks—unfortunately, they didn’t fall,” Carhart said.

Although they suffered an early departure from the playoffs, the Rangers will still be remembered by its improvement from last year and share of the conference championship.

“It felt amazing to win [the OK White],” Jimmy said. “We played great throughout the whole conference, which is a great accomplishment.”

With the leadership learned from this year’s seniors, the eight returning juniors on the squad look to improve the boys varsity basketball team even further next season.