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Zach's Editorial: Looking back at preseason projections

OK Conference boys basketball recap
Forest Hills Northern head coach, Joe Soules cuts down the nets.
Posted at 12:25 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 08:35:47-05

(FOX 17) — Before boys basketball conference play started, I thought it'd be fun to do a preseason projection. Now that conference play is over, it's time to see how good or bad I made myself look.

Zach's Preseason Projections can be found here.


Projections:Hudsonville 11-1
East Kentwood 9-3
West Ottawa 7-5
Grand Haven 7-5
Rockford 5-7
Caledonia 3-9
Grandville 2-10

Hudsonville 12-0
East Kentwood 8-4
West Ottawa 7-5
Grand Haven 5-7
Caledonia 5-7
Rockford 5-7
Grandville 0-12

Hudsonville finishing unbeaten was predictable but I expected East Kentwood to get them in one of the two meetings. However, the Falcons took a while to get going this season but are now playing much better basketball when it matters most. Caledonia picked up its first conference win in a few seasons, not only that, but the Fighting Scots won five league games. Other than that, the conference shook out pretty much the way I had expected.

Unity Christian 12-0
Holland Christian 9-3
Zeeland West 7-5
Zeeland East 7-5
Byron Center 3-9
Hamilton 3-9
Holland 1-11

Unity Christian 10-2
Zeeland East 8-4
Zeeland West 8-4
Holland Christian 6-6
Byron Center 4-8
Hamilton 4-8
Holland 2-10

Unity Christian hadn't lost an OK Green game since January 26, 2016 until Byron Center upset the Crusaders, 59-57 on January 31. The Crusaders would also fall to Zeeland East on the road, 54-51 on February 18. Both the Chix and Zeeland West were a game better than the projection while Holland Christian was in nearly every OK Green game but dropped six of them. The Maroons fell by just a point to Zeeland West and Unity Christian on the road while the Crusaders and Dux beat them by just three in each meeting at Holland Christian.

Muskegon 12-0
Union 10-2
Reeths-Puffer 8-4
Kenowa Hills 5-7
Jenison 5-7
Mona Shores 2-10
Fruitport 0-12

Muskegon 12-0
Reeths-Puffer 8-4
Union 6-6
Jenison 6-6
Fruitport 5-7
Kenowa Hills 4-8
Mona Shores 1-11

Grand Rapids Union got off to a 9-1 start to the season including 4-1 in league play. However, the Red Hawks suffered five straight OK Black losses from the end of January until February 18. Union did finish the league season with an impressive 31 point win over Reeths-Puffer on February 28.

Then there's Fruitport, who I projected to go winless in the OK Black. Wrong. Steve Erny's group picked it up down the stretch after a 47 point loss to Union in the team's second league game. The Trojans responded in the teams second meeting, coming away with a twelve point win on February 11 at home against the Red Hawks. The Trojans are 10-9 overall and won't be slept on in district play.

Forest Hills Northern 11-1
Forest Hills Central 9-3
Northview 8-4
Cedar Springs 5-7
Ottawa Hills 4-8
Lowell 4-8
Greenville 1-11

Forest Hills Central 11-1
Forest Hills Northern 11-1
Northview 8-4
Ottawa Hills 5-7
Cedar Springs 4-8
Lowell 3-9
Greenville 0-12

Looking back, I couldn't believe I had Forest Hills Central at three losses, but I did and I'll own up to it. Jimmy Scholler and Mitchell Wilkerson have been a treat to watch all season long and helped lead the Rangers to a share of the OK White title. The Rangers' neighbor to the north, Forest Hills Northern really rallied in league play despite being so young. In fact, Joe Soules' two leading scorers are juniors in Ethan Erickson and Trinidad Chambliss.

The Rangers and Huskies split the two season meetings, each winning the home game. Meanwhile, Northview led the second tier of teams but couldn't quite put it all together during league play to threaten at the top, falling to Central by 26 on January 31 and 16 on the road on February 28. The Wildcats made it close with Northern, falling 55-53 in the home meeting but suffering a 17 point setback on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ottawa Hills had quite a turnaround from last season, going from last in the conference to fourth, winning five games. Head coach Derrick King's group also saw an impressive improvement in overall record, from 2-17 a season ago to 9-11 heading into district play.

GR Christian 11-1
Wyoming 9-3
South Christian 7-5
Forest Hills Eastern 7-5
East Grand Rapids 6-6
Wayland 2-10
Middleville TK 0-12

Wyoming 11-1
GR Christian 10-2
East Grand Rapids 8-4
South Christian 6-6
Forest Hills Eastern 5-7
Middleville TK 2-10
Wayland 0-12

All I can say is wow. I'm sure these projections helped fuel some fire in Wyoming and the Wolves have proven to be the best team in the OK Gold. Truthfully, I never expected to say that this season as Grand Rapids Christian and Kobe Bufkin stole all of the preseason OK Gold story lines. However, eight seniors for Thom VanderKlay led the way including superstars Diego Ledesma and Menalito McGee. The Wolves were able to come back from a double digit deficit to defeat the Eagles, 62-61 on Valentine's Day to tie atop the conference.

Just two weeks later, South Christian would upset Grand Rapids Christian to hand the Eagles their second conference loss, allowing for Wyoming to win the league outright.

East Grand Rapids was impressive all season long as well. Of the Pioneers' seven losses this season, six have come to (arguably) top five teams in West Michigan - two each to Wyoming and Grand Rapids Christian with the other three coming to Hudsonville, Grand Rapids Catholic Central and East Kentwood in overtime. Derrick Owens Sr. and his son have the Pioneers playing outstanding defense which helped lead them to an 8-4 conference mark.

GR Catholic Central 12-0
Allendale 9-3
Sparta 6-6
Comstock Park 6-6
West Catholic 5-7
Coopersville 3-9
Spring Lake 1-11

GR Catholic Central 12-0
Allendale 10-2
Spring Lake 6-6
West Catholic 5-7
Coopersville 4-8
Sparta 3-9
Comstock Park 2-10

If we're being honest, the OK Blue was wrapped up before the season started with the talent Grand Rapids Catholic Central has. However, it was wide open underneath the Cougars and Allendale even put up great fights against them, falling by a combined 23 points in the two season meetings. The Falcons have a lot of talent led by big man Ryan Corner and shooters all around him.

Finishing in third was Spring Lake, a team that I owe a big apology to. The Lakers improved on a 2-10 conference mark last season, finishing this year at an even 6-6. In fact, the Lakers could have added two more conference wins to the record with back-to-back tough losses in February, including a three point loss at home against Allendale and an overtime loss to Coopersville on the road.

Calvin Christian 10-2
Godwin Heights 10-2
Hopkins 10-2
NorthPointe Christian 8-4
Kelloggsville 2-10
Belding 1-11
Wyoming Lee 1-11

Hopkins 10-2
Calvin Christian 10-2
NorthPointe Christian 10-2
Godwin Heights 6-6
Kelloggsville 3-9
Belding 2-10
Wyoming Lee 1-11

Things were as wide open as anticipated this season in the OK Silver. In my preseason projections, I had said:

"As a whole, I don't see one team running away with it. I think the OK Silver will beat up on one another all season long and it'll likely come down to the final week of the regular season to see which team, or teams are crowned champion(s)."

That was the way things played out with the exception to the three teams I had placed at the top. Godwin Heights is young and with several underclassmen playing major minutes, finished at 6-6. Meanwhile, Sam Vasiu and NorthPointe Christian were able to exceed the preseason expectations, finishing 10-2 and splitting the conference title with Calvin Christian and Hopkins, who were projected to be there.

Hopkins, meanwhile, gets a share of a conference championship for the first time since 1997. Jake Jewett's bunch dropped a pair of home games to the Mustangs and Squires but seniors Ty Zomerlei and Drew Weber were able to go out on top.

Calvin Christian uses their size and length to defend at a very high level, senior Brock Stevens is one of the top scorers in West Michigan and proved that again this season. The three-way split of the conference was something I saw coming as the top three teams separated themselves from the rest of the pack.