GRAND RAPIDS, Mich – Friday night is filled with big time match-ups on the high school hardwood. No less than 8 boys games have huge implications on conference races. Here is a look at those 8 games:
East Kentwood (2-0, 11-0) at Rockford (2-0, 8-3)-This is a fantastic match-up of senior guards. They don’t get much better than Rockford point guard Chad Carlson and shooting guard Chase Fairchild unless it’s Kentwood’s Jaylen Carter and Arthur Pearson. Neither team has much size but that has not been a problem so far. While the Falcons have the better record and a quality win over Zeeland East, the Rams have beaten teams like Detroit Loyola (9-2) and River Rouge (4-4). Rockford has won 8 of their last nine after an 0-2 start. This should be a battle for tempo, Kentwood wants to run, Rockford wants to slow it down and play a half court game. The good news is that both teams can play either style, this one should be right down to the wire.
Zeeland East (2-0, 10-1) at Muskegon (2-0, 7-4)- Just like in football, the OK Black title is going to come down to the Chix and Big Reds. Round one will be played at Redmond-Potter Gymansium where Muskegon just disposed of a solid Grand Rapids Christian team (without Drake Harris), 72-48 Tuesday night. The Chix are big, 6’7″ senior Josh Groenhof is as good of a post player as you will find in West Michigan and he can step outside as well. East also boasts 6”6″ senior Brandon Dykstra (more of a wing) and 6’5″ senior Tyler Smith, but don’t sleep on their guards, quarterback Mike Custer runs the point and Logan Kroll has played well at the two this season. Muskegon has been led by junior point guard Deshaun Thrower who is averaging 19.7 points per game this season and 6″5″ wing Juwon Martin is a streaky shooter, if he gets hot, look out.
GR Christian (2-0, 5-5) at Jenison (2-0, 7-3)- It might not be quite the heavyweight match-up that some of the other games are, but it does decide 1st place in the OK White. Christian point guard Drake Harris has missed 3 of his teams last 4 games with injuries (ankle, wrist) if he plays, the Eagles are really tough. 6’8″ junior center DaRohn Scott has really shown improvement with his back to the basket game and he is terrific at blocking shots on defense, he is likely to cause some problems for the shorter Wildcats. Jenison is a young team and when juniors Luke Diekevers and Jacob Arnston are scoring, the Wildcat are at their best.
South Christian (2-0, 7-4) at GR Catholic Central (2-0, 7-3)- There are 5 teams in the OK Gold that are capable of winning the conference, South and C-C are certainly two of them. The Sailors have gotten Jon Wassink back (collarbone from football) and that has helped. Twin brothers Kevin and Kyle Doornbos are solid guards and forwards Jason Miller and Seth VanEngen are solid as well. South’s x-factor is 6’6″ junor center Zach Medendorp who is very long and will be a tough match-up for the Cougars. C-C point guard and Union transfer DeMarkus Stuckey can really play and when he plays within the offense, the Cougars can be really tough to beat. Senior forward Jon Marosi is good guy to have on your side as well. If your Catholic Central this is almost a must win because it is so tough to win a South Christian.
Sparta (5-0, 9-2) at Comstock Park (4-0, 9-2)- The top 2 teams in the Blue square off, although people much smarter then me say Creston (3-1, 5-5) will be a major player in this race as well. The Panthers were the preseason favorite after returning every player from a 13-win team last season. Senior point guard Ryan Schall has been fantastic as expected and he really makes things for Park. Sparta counters with a really good guard of their own, senior Jerad Bradford. There is also an interesting match-up in the post where Park’s 6’8″ junior Drake Baar continues to show improvement and Sparta’s 6’7″ Ben Sheckler loves to step out side and hit the 3.
Godwin Heights (5-0, 10-0) at Calvin Christian (5-0, 11-0)- Has to be considered the game of the night when you consider only one team can remain unbeaten. Godwin has their usual solid guards in seniors Braima Hai and Jamal Bland who have been their and done that. Speaking of been there and done that, Calvin Christian’s senior guard Brad Visser is about as tough as they come, now in his 3rd year on varsity, Visser recently surpassed the 1,000 point plateau. While the Wolverines advantage is certainly their speed, the Squires advantage is their height, 6’7″ senior Brandon Geels will be a tough guard for Godwin’s 6’4″ center Markese Mayfield. The difference might be Godwin 6’2″ sophomore Delaney Blaylock who grew about 3 inches from his freshman year. Blaylock scored 19 of his 24 points Tuesday night in the 3rd quarter in a win against NorthPointe Christian.
Covenant Christian (3-0, 5-4) at Tri-Unity Chrsitian (2-0, 8-2)- I’m not sure there is a River Valley team that can hang with Tri-Unity, but Covenant will give it a shot. The Chargers best chance will be if junior Brandon Kaptein gets it going, in Covenant’s 2 most impressive wins over Kelloggsville and Western Michigan Christian he scored 27 and 28 points respectively, but was held to just 6 in a loss to Wyoming Lee. Meanwhile, Tri-Unity has been playing without 6’6″ senior center Mark Sjoerdsma who tore his ACL December 14, but the Defenders have a pair of great guards in seniors Daniel Cole and Josh Blauwkamp and 6’4″ senior forward Matt Wachter has really stepped his game up lately.
Shleby (5-2, 8-4) at Montague (5-1, 9-1)- This was going to be a showdown between 2 of 3 teams tied for 1st in the West Michigan Conference (Oakridge is the other), that was until Mason County Central beat Shelby Tuesday night. The Tigers are extremely dangerous and Montague is well aware, The Wildcats only loss of the season came at the hands of Shelby on December 11, 73-67. Junior point guard Jason Beckman led the Tigers with 23 points in that game, Montague’s Brandon Moore led all scorers in that game with 26. These two schools have battled for several years now for the top spot in the WMC, this should be another classic.