A second-half surge at East Kentwood gives the boys varsity basketball team its second straight win to open the season

Coming into Friday’s non-conference game versus East Kentwood, the boys varsity basketball team had managed just a singular win against the Falcons in the past decade; to make matters worse, Rangerball was yet to travel to EK and walk away victorious. 

But, thanks to an incredible second-half performance, that was all about to change. 

A nine-point deficit heading into the locker room seemed to be the wake-up call that FHC needed, as a plus-18 point second half drove the Rangers past the Falcons on the scoreboard—a scoreboard that read 74-65 in favor of Rangerball when the clock hit triple zeros.


Conner Milton rises up during tip-off.

“In the second half, we did a much better job of keeping the ball in front of us on defense,” head coach Kyle Carhart said postgame. “On offense, we were able to handle their pressure, be strong with the ball, and put ourselves in position to get good shots.”

Although FHC capitalized on its first-half shortcomings, the opening 16 minutes was a display of not-so-ideal shot IQ and inside presence. The Falcons tallied three blocks in the first quarter; outstanding plays from juniors Levi McKenzie and Jake Koning were overshadowed by a 13-2 East Kentwood run that held the Rangers down by four entering the second.

Levi McKenzie shoots a free throw with one of his senior captains standing behind him.

The following eight minutes showcased a similar narrative, with the Falcons dominating the paint. EK scored several buckets in which there was simply not enough help at the rim, and the big men seemed to be playing smarter and more physically than FHC’s bigs. The Rangers totaled just one field goal in the second quarter—a three-pointer from sophomore Jonas VanderWoude—and headed to the locker trailing by a steady nine points. 

A variety of contributors kept FHC afloat in the second half, most notably Jake Koning.

“When you’re playing in a hostile environment against a good team, every single person needs to be locked in and ready in order to get the job done,” Jake said.

Jake Koning makes a break for the basket.

Regardless of the true team effort, senior Jacob Bonnett flipped his switch to the “on” position in the second half.

He began the third quarter with a tenacious and-one bucket, which ultimately set the tone for the rest of the game. Then, after he scored the team’s next two baskets, Jonas stepped onto the court and buried a much-needed three; his ability to stroke it from the outside has proved to be major for FHC in just two games thus far.

Jacob Bonnett looks to finish through contact with a Falcon defender draped all over him.

Senior Joe Seurynck provided the team’s next lift as the big man strolled in and made a few huge rebounds as well as consecutive shots inside. Even after a Jacob three-pointer, though, the Rangers still found themselves down by 10. However, in the blink of an eye, Levi McKenzie narrowed the deficit down to five with an impressive triple before drawing a trip to the line for two easy free throws. 

Then, with five seconds remaining in the third quarter, coach Carhart drew up a play that was executed to perfection by his players.

Coach Carhart directs his team from the bench.

Senior Conner Milton caught an inbounds pass near midcourt, which he immediately flipped back to Bonnett. Jacob did not hesitate as he neared the three-point arch, drilling the longball and giving East Kentwood a narrow two-point cushion to begin the final quarter of play.

To kick off the final eight minutes, Pierson Vangorp stepped up big-time. The senior captain found himself with some space behind the three-point line, and he capitalized and buried the shot. This brought FHC to within a single point after an impressive drive and left-hand finish from Jake Koning.


Pierson VanGorp rests during a free throw.

As he has a knack for doing, Jacob completely took over the next stretch. He scored the next 9 points for FHC, giving Rangerball the lead for the first time since quarter one. This unanswered, single-handed run allowed the Rangers to sit in the driver’s seat. 

As great teams do, FHC closed it out for the second straight week. Jacob’s 22 points in the second half were not all the difference but certainly were a catalyst. 

“Jacob was again unbelievable,” coach Carhart praised. “It is just a lot of fun to watch him compete.”

Jacob Bonnett walks back to the FHC bench for a timeout.

As the Rangers round out non-conference play next Thursday, December 23, with a trip to Wyoming High School, they have the opportunity to boast an even stronger resume come OK White play. 

“Hopefully our players are able to learn a lot from the game,” coach Carhart said. “It showed that we can stay resilient against some adversity and find a way.”