Listen live online Friday on the Slocum Sports Network to a varsity basketball doubleheader with the Parchment Panthers hosting the Berrien Springs Shamrocks. The girls varsity is up first around 6 p.m. with the boys to follow around 7:30 p.m. This is the third season that these schools are rivals within the BCS-Red Conference.
The Parchment boys return most of their lineup from last year and already look improved with a 2-1 start. The Panthers topped Allegan and Bridgman, then lost 62-52 at Olivet Tuesday. The Shamrocks dropped their first two games against Trinity School and Comstock. They will enter the Parchment game at either 1-2 or 0-3, depending on Thursday’s makeup game with New Buffalo.
Berrien Springs won both of last season’s meetings, 49-38 and 60-52. The Shamrocks also took both matchups two seasons ago, both by 50-29 finals. They weren’t regular opponents prior to that.
In the girls contest, Parchment enters at 1-4, although their last three losses were by 10 points or fewer. Berrien Springs will be either 2-1 or 1-2 by Friday, pending the result Thursday with New Buffalo. The Shamrocks won both meetings last season, 53-33 and 45-36. Two seasons ago, the Panthers earned two wins, 42-30 and 44-40.
The games will also be Parchment’s 5th “Compete for a Cure” series, with money raised for the American Heart Association, the National Brain Tumor Society, and the Children’s Leukemia Foundation of Michigan.
Listen live to both games online on the Slocum Sports Network with the girls around 6 p.m. and the boys around 7:30 p.m. from Parchment High School.
Schoolcraft claimed both parts of a varsity doubleheader at home Friday, defeating Delton Kellogg 71-33 in boys action and 58-40 in girls play. The Eagles took their first SAC Valley division contests with big scoring efforts from Lydia Goble and Trenton Lomason, getting 28 and 23 points, respectively.
The boys game was never in doubt, with a 26-6 score by the end of the first quarter and a 51-16 mark at halftime. Lomason, a transfer over the summer from Vicksburg, hit seven three-pointers. Kobe Clark and Riley Piper both scored 12 points. Delton Kellogg’s best was 11 by Josh Lyons. It was Schoolcraft’s first game of the season, meanwhile DK drops to 0-2.
The Panthers opened the girls game with a three-pointer, then surrendered a 10-0 run to Schoolcraft. Delton Kellogg got back within four by the end of the first quarter and briefly reclaimed the lead in the second, but the Eagles carried a 27-15 advantage into halftime. The Panthers narrowly won the third quarter 19-16, but Schoolcraft put the contest out of reach in the fourth.
Goble’s 28 point effort featured six three-pointers. Kennedy Leighton added 12 in the victory. Lillian Howard topped Delton Kellogg with 13 points. Schoolcraft’s girls improve to 4-0 with Delton Kellogg dropping to 2-1.
Both the Delton Kellogg boys and girls return to action at Hackett Catholic next Friday. The Schoolcraft girls hope to avenge their volleyball regional final defeat Tuesday at Bronson. The Eagle boys and girls both host Lawton Friday.
Listen back to Friday’s games below:
SCHOOLCRAFT GIRLS SCORING: Lydia Goble 28, Kennedy Leighton 12, Gabi Saxman 9, Anna Schuppel 4, Adrienne Rosey 3, Olivia Ingle 2
DELTON KELLOGG GIRLS SCORING: Lillian Howard 13, Caylin Lopez 7, Abby Howard 6, Erin Kapteyn 5, Sam Mohn 3, Emily Shepard 2, Victoria Green 2, Lexi Parsons 2
SCHOOLCRAFT BOYS SCORING: Trenton Lomason 23, Kobe Clark 12, Riley Piper 12, Jakob Huysken 9, Bryce VanderWiere 6, Austin Webb 4, Brice Walther 3, Brady Flynn 2
DELTON KELLOGG BOYS SCORING: Josh Lyons 11, Shane Reinhart 8, Cole Pape 7, Brock Pape 2, Alex Diggs 2, Joel Lopez 2, Cameron Rasler 1
Listen live Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network as the Hackett Catholic Irish meet the Buckley Bears in boys basketball from Kalamazoo College. These programs combined for 45 victories last season and this game should serve as a playoff-level test to start the season. Located about two-and-a-half hours apart, these schools first became acquainted back on November 1st with Hackett defeating Buckley 3-1 in the Division 4 soccer state semifinal.
Hackett was a Class C quarterfinalist two seasons ago in boys basketball. The Irish went 19-2 last season, eliminated by conference rival Kalamazoo Christian in the district tournament. Hackett returns 10 players from last year’s varsity team, including two guys who averaged double-digit points per game in Cooper Smith and Heath Baldwin. Saturday will be Hackett’s second game of the season, as they open at conference foe Lawton Friday.
Buckley finished last season 26-1, only losing in the Class D state championship game 78-69 to Powers North Central. The Bears return all six players who scored in their first state final appearance. Averaging double-digit points per game last season were Denver Cade, Austin Harris, and Joe Weber. Saturday’s game will be Buckley’s 2017-18 opener.
Listen live to Saturday’s game online on the Slocum Sports Network with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. from the Anderson Athletic Center at Kalamazoo College.
Listen live online Friday on the Slocum Sports Network to boys and girls varsity basketball as the Schoolcraft Eagles host the Delton Kellogg Panthers. On both sides, it is the first test of the season within the always strong Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC) Valley division. The girls varsity is scheduled for a tip-off around 6 p.m. with the boys to follow around 7:30 p.m.
Both girls teams are unbeaten on the young season with Schoolcraft at 3-0 and Delton Kellogg at 2-0. For the Eagles, they’ve won their games by 18, 18, and 19, trying to build off the 20-6 state quarterfinal run of last season. Delton Kellogg took their opening games by 25 and 19. Although the Panther girls were 8-13 last season, each of their all-SAC selections from last season return.
On the boys side, Delton Kellogg is 0-1, dropping their opener 64-39 Tuesday against a very strong Wyoming Kelloggsville team. For Schoolcraft, Friday’s game will be their debut. Both teams will need to replace more than two-thirds of their scoring output from last season. The Panthers finished 14-8 in 2016-17, the Eagles went 22-2.
The Schoolcraft boys and girls both swept Delton Kellogg last season. The Eagle boys rolled the Panthers 88-48 the first time, followed by a 69-29 score in the rematch. The girls saw a 62-31 Schoolcraft win in game one and a 48-30 score in game two. Delton Kellogg last beat Schoolcraft in girls play on February 17, 2015. For the boys, Schoolcraft has won 19 consecutive meetings according to scores available back to the 2008-09 campaign.
The Kalamazoo Christian Comets opened the boys basketball season Tuesday with a 53-41 victory over district rival Bloomingdale. Senior Jordan Katje led the way offensively for the Comets, scoring 24 points, 22 of which came off field goals. He also nabbed 13 rebounds.
The Comets had the game’s opening basket, but trailed for much of the first quarter. Bloomingdale ended the first ahead 12-9, but were outscored 19-8 in the second for a 28-20 Comet advantage by halftime. The Cardinals were three-pointer heavy in the first half, draining five triples. However, they could only add two more in the second half. Kalamazoo Christian extended the lead to as many as 17 in the third quarter.
Kalamazoo Christian travels to Saugatuck for their second game of the season Friday. Bloomingdale returns to action at Eau Claire next Tuesday. Listen back to Tuesday’s game below:
KALAMAZOO CHRISTIAN SCORING: Jordan Katje 24, Sean Cummings 9, Noah De Jong 8, John Cramer 6, Colin Sikkenga 4, Ben Cramer 2
BLOOMINGDALE SCORING: Karl Butler 9, Tyler Starbuck 8, Eric Gumpert 6, Austin Cripps 6, JoJo Butler 5, Michael Ellis 3, Tim Douglas 3, Tyler Campbell 1
Listen live online Tuesday evening around 7 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network to high school boys basketball with the Kalamazoo Christian Comets hosting the Bloomingdale Cardinals. These teams are in the same district for the sixth consecutive season, although they’ve not faced each other during that stretch.
Kalamazoo Christian finished 18-8 last season and made it as far as the Class C state quarterfinal. The Comets graduated four seniors from last season’s team, including their leading scorer, Alex Visser. They bring back six seniors and one junior who saw significant varsity time, including first-team SAC Valley selection Jordan Katje.
Bloomingdale went 14-7 last season in a huge turnaround from the five combined wins they had over the previous three seasons. The Cardinals graduated top-scorer and rebounder Zaquarius Jeffries, who earned honorable mention All-State. Notably back are first-team SAC Central pick Karl Butler and SAC Central honorable mention Michael Ellis.
Listen live to Tuesday’s game online on the Slocum Sports Network with tip-off scheduled for around 7 p.m., pending the JV game.
December marks the start of the 2017-18 MHSAA boys basketball season. This post takes a look at the teams in the greater Kalamazoo area and features teams within the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC), Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference (SMAC), Wolverine Conference, Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph (BCS) Red, Southwest 10, and Interstate 8.
(NOTE: Not all teams have rosters and/or statistical information available from the previous season.)
|Hackett Catholic||19-2||11-1||Lost in District|
|Kalamazoo Christian||18-8||7-5||State Quarterfinalist|
|Delton Kellogg||14-8||6-6||Lost in District|
|Constantine||6-15||3-9||Lost in District|
|Lawton||6-17||2-10||Lost in District|
|Fennville||18-4||11-1||Lost in District|
|Saugatuck||13-8||8-4||Lost in District|
|Martin||13-10||8-2 (Central)||Lost in District|
|Coloma||13-9||8-4||Lost in District|
|Gobles||16-7||7-5||Lost in District|
|Watervliet||7-15||4-8||Lost in District|
|Lawrence||0-21||0-10 (Central)||Lost in District|
Kalamazoo Christian had the deepest postseason run out of the SAC, using a balanced attack and not emphasizing any one shooter. The Comets graduate four seniors, including leading scorer and first-team SAC Valley Alex Visser and honorable mention Drew Scheffers. Their other first-teamer returns in Jordan Katje, who averaged a double-double last season and also earned Kalamazoo Gazette second-team. Also back are six other seniors and one junior with varsity experience.
Hackett Catholic loses four seniors and returns five varsity contributors. The biggest loss is first-teamer Teddy Oosterbaan and his near double-double per game. Among those back are first-teamer Cooper Smith and his 13 points per game, plus honorable mention Jacob Niesen and Heath Baldwin
Schoolcraft suffered significant losses, including eight seniors and their top four scoring players. First-team SAC Valley Ricky Clark and Kalamazoo Gazette Dream Teamer Caleb Eustice, plus honorable mention Max Kulczyk and Jason Feddema will need to be replaced. Despite this, the Eagles still have solid talent, including five seniors with varsity experience and sophomore Kobe Clark. Another wild card is Trenton Lomason, a senior transfer who was a big contributor last season at Vicksburg.
Delton Kellogg loses around 75 percent of their 16-17 scoring, needing to replace 20 points per game from second-team Associated Press All-State pick Cogan McCoy. He and six other seniors leave holes to be filled. Returning seniors Josh Lyons and Brock Pape will be called upon to contribute significantly.
The one first-team SAC Valley pick yet to be mentioned was Trevor Patterson, who returns for his senior season in 17-18 at Galesburg-Augusta.
Over in the Lakeshore, Fennville must replace their two first-team SAC selections in top-scorer Julian Martinez-Grigg and JP Alfaro. #2 scorer and Lakeshore honorable mention Austin Lewis is back, he averaged 11 points per game as a junior. The other Blackhawk honorable mention returns as well in Ben Renkema.
Saugatuck loses second-team All-State Blake Dunn and his impressive 23 points per game, but still have first-team Lakeshore pick Teaque Tiemeyer and his 16 points per game. Tiemeyer joins seven other Saugatuck players back with varsity experience, including Blake’s younger brother Brad, fresh off All-State football honors.
Martin has the challenge of replacing longtime varsity starters Tanner Curry and Matt MacVean, both first-team Lakeshore selections. Both Clipper honorable mention players return to the lineup in Carter Hinton and Andrew Boss.
At Coloma, first-team Lakeshore guard Zach Goodline returns, entering his junior season already as the all-time scoring and assist leader at Coloma. He comes back with help as well with senior honorable mention Lakeshore Levi Wilkens joining him in the backcourt.
Gobles graduated seven seniors, including top-scorer and first-teamer Tyler Hunt and honorable mention Clayton Stapert. Together, they averaged 28 points and 18 boards per contest. Two returning seniors will be called on to shoulder the load, Peyton Austin and Tyler Stedman.
Watervliet loses only three seniors and gets back all three of their SAC Lakeshore honorees. Watervliet’s strengths will be inside. 6’8” Dan Cluster earned first-team and is one of the bigger centers within the SAC. Honorable mention forwards Sheldon Tobar and Bryant Kieft helped propel the football team to the quarterfinal, with Kieft getting first-team All-State on the gridiron.
Despite their struggles, Lawrence did get three SAC Central honorable mention picks. Two graduated, Andrew Lowe and Jacob Ghidotti. Back is Brandon Lopez, who earned the honor last season as a freshman.
|Kalamazoo Central||21-4||10-0||State Quarterfinalist|
|Battle Creek Central||19-4||8-2||Regional Semifinalist|
|Lakeview||8-15||4-6||Lost in District|
|Mattawan||7-14||3-7||Lost in District|
|Gull Lake||6-15||3-7||Lost in District|
|Loy Norrix||3-18||2-8||Lost in District|
|Portage Central||17-4||8-0||Lost in District|
|St. Joseph||12-11||4-4||Lost in District|
|Portage Northern||9-12||4-4||Lost in District|
|Lakeshore||7-14||3-5||Lost in District|
|Niles||6-16||1-7||Lost in District|
Kalamazoo Central boasted an impressive 2017 class of seniors continuing their basketball careers at the college level. Isaiah Livers (now a Michigan Wolverine) earned the Mr. Basketball award as the best player in the state and the Maroon Giants will need to fill his void. Another tough one to replace will be first-team Gazette and honorable mention All-Stater Rog Stein and his double-double per game. Four players are back with varsity experience.
Battle Creek Central also loses a very strong senior class, including four members of the Battle Creek Enquirer All-City team (Juan Warren, Jahmiel Wade, Demetrius Craig, Denzell Banks). They do have a solid post presence back in Orlando Lee, who cracked the Bearcat starting lineup as a sophomore.
Lakeview must replace four-year varsity point guard CJ Foster and leading scorer Jaylon Johnson, plus seven other seniors from the 16-17 squad.
Mattawan looks to have great size back for the new season, including Nolan Foster (6’9”), Jaden Mabin (6’5”) and Chris Becker (6’4”).
Gull Lake loses their lone Enquirer All-Area selection in Sawyer Olsen, plus seven other seniors.
Gone from Loy Norrix is Delano Swift and his 16 points per game. The Knights also graduated their #2 and #4 scorers from last season, although they do have nine returning players that have seen varsity action.
To the SMAC West, Portage Central lost honorable mention All-State Austin McCullough and his 17 points per game, along with honorable mention Johnny Maier and four other seniors. Six guys are back from last year’s varsity roster.
St. Joseph brings back a few notable contributors for their senior campaign in Cade Shimulunas, Trevor Dilley, and Ryan Haynes.
Portage Northern only had two seniors on last season’s team, Duane Jackson and Parker Simon. The Huskies had six players see significant time last season as sophomores or freshmen, including Gazette honorable mention guard Devin Marshall.
Lakeshore will need to replace their top three scorers, Max Gaishin, Lucas Meyer, and Colin Brushwyler. Like the Huskies though, they had five sophomores and freshmen last year hit the varsity floor.
|South Haven||15-7||7-1||Lost in District|
|Paw Paw||18-5||6-2||Lost in District|
|Otsego||11-11||4-4||Lost in District|
|Plainwell||10-11||3-5||Lost in District|
|Allegan||2-19||0-8||Lost in District|
|Three Rivers||15-8||7-1||Regional Semifinalist|
|Sturgis||15-6||5-3||Lost in District|
|Vicksburg||9-12||4-4||Lost in District|
|Dowagiac||8-13||3-5||Lost in District|
|Edwardsburg||6-15||1-7||Lost in District|
In the North, South Haven loses six seniors, including first-team Wolverine selection Joe Wilkins. Honorable mention pick Caleb Ford returns with seven other players back with varsity experience.
Paw Paw must replace first-team point guard Trey Brennan, but they return one of the conference’s most dynamic scoring threats in Luke Toliver. He grabbed first-team Wolverine and Gazette Dream Team with 21 points and eight rebounds per game. Paw Paw loses six other seniors and brings back four players with varsity minutes.
Otsego graduated first-team Wolverine Bill Woodhams and honorable mention Tyler Rayman, plus five other seniors. Second-team pick Zak Lucas leads six players returning from the varsity team.
Plainwell could be a significant threat, bringing back four of their top five scorers from last season. First-teamer Luke Morrell and second-teamer Evan Finch combined for around 33 points per game. They do lose second-team point guard Ben Gibson, but have Zakary Termeer, second in assists last season, to take his place.
Allegan’s lone All-Wolverine pick, Caleb DeKryger, returns this season for the Tigers.
To the South, Three Rivers lost eight seniors, most notably second-team Wolverine Carson Charvat and honorable mention Eric Johnson. However, the Wildcats did have a few underclassmen with starts in 16-17, including first-team Wolverine Tirrell Hausmanis and honorable mention Jalen Heivilin. Gavin Charvat and Jensin Blyly also were significant contributors who return.
Sturgis has to replace first-teamer Matt Polzin and honorable mention Brandon Wetzel. Their other honorable mention pick, Brecken Stewart, leads those back for the 17-18 campaign.
Vicksburg graduated 20 points and nine boards per game from honorable mention All-State Deondre Lovell. The Bulldogs also need to replace second-team Wolverine Blake Rankin, honorable mention Adam Grabowski, plus notable contributors Brenden Lovell and Trenton Lomason.
Dowagiac’s first-team Wolverine pick Adrien Bucha-Moore is gone, along with honorable mention Jayden Smith. Two honorable mentions are back in Jamin Hunt and Demetrius Lanier, with Lanier getting the honor as a freshman last season.
Edwardsburg only saw one All-Wolverine selection in 16-17 and must replace him in second-teamer Adam Kozinski.
|Brandywine||19-3||8-1||Lost in District|
|Comstock||9-12||6-3||Lost in District|
|Berrien Springs||11-11||6-4||Lost in District|
|Buchanan||11-10||5-5||Lost in District|
|Bridgman||7-15||3-7||Lost in District|
|Parchment||4-17||1-9||Lost in District|
Brandywine loses honorable mention All-State point guard Hunter Slaughter from their 16-17 team. They also lose guard Brady Duval, but notably have post presence Jaden Croom back for his junior campaign.
Comstock must fill a huge hole with the graduation of Tyrese Gardner, who earned first-team All-State on 20.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Buchanan loses five seniors and returns six players with varsity experience. At Bridgman, six seniors are gone and eight others return.
Parchment brings back almost their entire squad, graduating only two seniors. Darrion Turner, Ontayveon Fry, and Garrett Stutz are among the returners who had varsity starts last season.
|Parma Western||16-5||11-3||Lost in District|
|Marshall||15-6||11-3||Lost in District|
|Coldwater||15-7||10-4||Lost in District|
|Pennfield||14-8||8-6||Lost in District|
|Harper Creek||15-9||8-6||Lost in District|
|Jackson Northwest||4-17||3-11||Lost in District|
|Lumen Christi||3-18||3-11||Lost in District|
|Hastings||5-17||2-12||Lost in District|
Western brings back forward Steele Fortress, who got honorable mention All-State and just earned Jackson Citizen Patriot football player of the year. Fortress enters his senior season alongside fellow starting forward Desmond Price.
Marshall loses point guard Marcus Waters, a Battle Creek Enqurier All-Area selection. Their other All-Area pick and all-conference selection Jeremy Luciani returns, he averaged 14 points per game for the Redhawks last season as a sophomore. His twin brother Jack also comes back as honorable mention Interstate 8.
Coldwater was led last season by honorable mention All-State pick Gage McGuire, who led the team in both points per game (16.6) and rebounds per game (8.8) as a sophomore. He joins seven returning players with six seniors gone.
Pennfield graduates all three of their Enquirer All-City selections in Ron Jamierson, Francois Jamierson, and Deveaire Todd. Together, they averaged around 46 points per game for the Panthers. Although certainly tough to replace, those three were the squad’s only seniors last season.
Harper Creek also saw three All-City selections with two gone, leading scorer Jeremiah Davis and JaCory McNutt. Davis also earned honorable mention All-State with just under 19 points per game. Their third All-City choice returns in Dom Gibson, along with starter Jon Taylor.
|Bloomingdale||14-7||Lost in District|
|Centreville||14-7||Lost in District|
|Mendon||10-12||Lost in District|
|Eau Claire||9-12||Lost in District|
|Hartford||9-12||Lost in District|
|Decatur||6-15||Lost in District|
|White Pigeon||3-18||Lost in District|
|Bangor||0-21||Lost in District|
Although Cassopolis loses 13 points per game from Shane Los, the Rangers have nearly 40 points per game returning with junior Tyrese Hunt-Thompson (BCS-Blue MVP) and seniors Kiambu Gary and Xander Smith. Seven other players come back with varsity experience, making Cassopolis the favorite in the Southwest 10’s first basketball season.
Bloomingdale has big shoes to fill with the graduation of honorable mention all-state Zaquarius Jeffries, who posted 20 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks per game. The Cardinals do return first-team SAC Central selection Karl Butler and honorable mention Michael Ellis.
Centreville graduated first-team BCS Blue Coletin Gascho and honorable mention Tyler Carpenter. Back is first-team BCS Blue Hayden Stauffer for his senior season.
Despite losing six seniors, Marcellus brings back most of their starting lineup for 17-18. Gone is first-team SAC Central Brandon Clark, but back are first-teamer Trevor Henry, and honorable mentions Eli Robinson and Jack Sumners.
Five seniors are gone for Mendon, but the top three scorers from last season are back for the Hornets. Lukas Crotser, Hunter Lovell, and Keaton Crotser combined for around 29 points and 17 rebounds per game last season.
Hartford’s lone SAC Lakeshore first team selection graduated in Austin Nelson. Both of their honorable mentions return, William Martinez and Garrod Johnson.
Decatur’s first-team SAC Central pick Erik Mroczek and honorable mention Matthew Stambek both return for the Raiders.
The first MHSAA varsity boys basketball contests begin December 4. Make sure to follow the Slocum Sports Network for girls and boys basketball broadcasts in the greater Kalamazoo area throughout 2017-18. For the girls season preview, click here.
The Kalamazoo Cougars basketball program won both parts of their first home varsity doubleheader Tuesday evening, earning a 61-57 boys victory and a 61-9 girls win over the Wyoming Warriors. While the girls game was never in question, the Cougar boys had to erase a double-digit hole to remain unbeaten on the young season.
The first quarter saw three lead changes, ending with the Warriors holding a 15-11 lead. Wyoming remained ahead for the entire second quarter, using early Cougar foul troubles to lead by as many as 11 points. The Cougars finished the second on a 13-4 run, trailing 30-26 at the break.
Kalamazoo opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run to take the lead and held a 44-39 advantage after the third. They traded the lead in the fourth quarter, but Wyoming soon found themselves without two starters, one to injury and one fouled out. Down two in the final seconds, the Warriors missed a three and were forced to foul with four seconds remaining. Cougar point guard Isaac Geiger buried both of his free throws to put the game out of reach.
Geiger and Josh McDonald were big at the free throw line, going a combined 12-14. McDonald led the team with 20 points, followed by 14 from Pipo Hofstra and 12 from Geiger. Wyoming was led by 19 from Wil Tiesma, trailed by 12 from Jake Minard. The Cougar boys move to 3-0 overall with Wyoming at 0-2.
Meanwhile, the girls game was the first action of the year for both squads. Kalamazoo was dominant from the very beginning, holding a 25-3 lead after the first quarter and a 39-7 advantage at halftime. Lauren Tuin topped Kalamazoo with 16 points, followed by Hannah Hofstra with 11. All nine players that dressed for the Cougars scored at least two points.
Kalamazoo returns home next Tuesday for a varsity doubleheader against the Grand Rapids Grizzlies. Wyoming is off until Thursday, November 30 with the boys hosting St. Johns and the girls hosting Wellspring Preparatory.
Listen back to Tuesday’s games below:
The Kalamazoo Cougars varsity boys started the season strong on Saturday with two wins over conference opponents MCAC (Michigan Christian Athletic Club) and Kokomo.
In their first game of the season, the Cougars came out of the gate quickly against MCAC and led 17-4 at the end of the first quarter. However, MCAC poured in shots from behind the arc to close the deficit to 24-18 by halftime.
After the teams traded blows in the third quarter, the Cougars blew the game open with dominant post play by sophomore forward, Pipo Hofstra, who ended the game with 21 points. Freshman guard Josh McDonald contributed 15 points and senior guard Isaac Geiger scored 7 as the Cougars garnered their first win, 54-35.
Against their afternoon opponent, the Kokomo Eagles, the Cougars used a balanced offensive attack to eventually overwhelm the Eagles. Although the score was 26-25 after two quarters, the Cougar halftime adjustments to their defense paid dividends. The Eagles were held to just 4 points in the third quarter and 5 points in the fourth quarter as the Cougars’ trapping zone forced turnover after turnover.
The Cougars won 63-34 and were led in scoring by 8th grade forward, Ty Rykse, who scored 13 and sealed the game with clutch threes in the fourth quarter. Pipo Hofstra scored 12 points and junior center Mike Janik scored 11. Junior forward Colt Logan
provided a strong boost off the bench as scored 6 and forced multiple turnovers.
The Cougars play their first home game on Tuesday against the Wyoming Warriors. Listen live to that game on Slocum Sports Network at 7:30 p.m., along with the girls’ varsity matchup at 6:15 p.m.
The Kalamazoo Cougars’ varsity boys basketball team enters the 2017-2018 season with a number of new faces, including their head coach. With only four returning players, two of whom are sophomores, the Cougars will be relying on its promising youth movement to grow up fast.
The Cougars are led by captains Isaac Geiger, a senior point guard who shoots the ball well from beyond the arc, and Pipo Hofstra, a sophomore forward with the ability to slash to the rim and defend any position. Their new head coach, Sam Gilbertson, believes that the success of this year’s team rides on his captains.
“We will need Isaac to set the tone offensively as the point guard and provide veteran leadership on the court,” said Gilbertson. “Pipo is a matchup nightmare due to his athleticism and energy. He can be a force on the rebounding end and should get a lot of shots in our offense.”
The other two returning players, Mike Janik (junior) and Elijah Kenitz (sophomore), are also expected to contribute in big ways this year. According to Gilbertson, “Mike and Elijah are our vocal leaders who give us a great defensive identity when they are on the court, and both of them can step up and impact the game offensively as well.”
After the four returners, the Cougars’ lineup is missing one critical quality: experience. However, Gilbertson has liked what he has seen from his young players so far. “A few of our guys have a confidence factor that is really impressive for their age and lack of varsity experience,” Gilbertson commented.
Leading the youth movement are Joshua McDonald (freshman) and Ty Rykse (8th grade), both of whom bypassed the junior varsity team and were promoted to the varsity roster by Gilbertson. McDonald is a talented scorer and Rykse is an athletic big man who can step out and cause issues for defenders. “We need both of those kids to step up in a big way this year,” said Gilbertson. Freshmen guards Logan Greer and Chris Staufer impressed the coaching staff enough during tryouts to also warrant early call-ups.
Other newcomers to the varsity squad are juniors Colt Logan, Caleb Staufer, and Lawton McCombs, as well as sophomore Demetrius McCombs. Gilbertson envisions Logan getting valuable minutes off the bench as a versatile guard/forward, while the 6’4” Staufer will be counted to provide a physical presence in the post and on the boards. Lawton and Demetrius McCombs are tough and tireless defenders who give Gilbertson the ability to increase pressure on opposing ballhandlers.
“We are a balanced team that should be able to compete in all aspects of the game, whether on the boards, in the post, or from the three,” he said. “Each of our guys has a unique skill set and right now, the challenge is putting those skill sets together for the success of the team as a whole.”
Helping Gilbertson make those coaching decisions are assistant coaches Barry DeYoung and Caleb Vanderhill. “I am eager to see how we improve as a team throughout the year. We are certainly a work in progress, but we are headed in the right direction,” says Gilbertson.
The tip off for the Cougars’ season is on November 18th, when the Cougars play conference opponents MCAC and KASH in Carson City during the annual Butternut Tournament. The first home game for the Cougars is against the Wyoming Warriors on November 21st at 7:30 p.m. Listen to that game live, along with the girls varsity matchup at 6:15 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network.