After dropping two out of their last three games, the Kalamazoo Cougars obtained a much-needed win against Big Rapids on Friday. The Cougars shook off a sluggish start to the game and beat Big Rapids 61-47, despite playing without two of their starters. Senior point guard Isaac Geiger was absent due to family leave, while junior post Mike Janik had to sit due to back spasms.
The Cougars were carried by the outstanding play of freshman guard Logan Greer, who filled in for Geiger as the point guard, and eighth-grade wing Ty Rykse. Greer scored a career-high 12 points, while Rykse poured in a career-high 23. Rykse came into the game averaging 7.4 points per game. The other significant scoring came from Pipo Hofstra (10) and Joshua McDonald (11), whose scoring was consistent with their season averages (12.8 and 11.3, respectively).
Big Rapids jumped out to an early lead to start the game as the Cougars had a difficult time guarding Joshua Kaufman, who scored 11 points in the first quarter and finished with 26 for the game. However, the Cougars climbed back into the game by making five threes in the second quarter, including a buzzer-beater by McDonald to give the Cougars much-needed momentum and a 34-23 lead going into halftime.
Their hot shooting from the perimeter continued in the third quarter, as Rykse and Greer made clutch threes to give the Cougars a 54-35 lead going into the final quarter. The Cougars’ bench withstood Big Rapids’ desperate press and preserved the lead for the rest of the game.
With the win, the Cougars improved to 7-4 on the season. They face the Holland Wave at home on Tuesday, December 19th, followed by an away game against the St. John’s Warriors on December 21st. The Cougars are looking to finish the first semester with two wins before they have a break from games over the holidays.
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.