Boys varsity basketball loses a nail-biter against Grand Rapids Christian


Hosting a well-regarded Grand Rapids Christian team on Friday, the FHC boys varsity basketball team battled to the bitter end.

But, similar to its prior two games, the team simply could not close it out.

While a late surge in the fourth quarter displayed tremendous grit on the Rangers’ end, they found themselves in the losing column for the third straight game after a measly two-point loss to the Eagles.

“For the last three games, we have talked quite a bit about needing to execute throughout the game,” head coach Kyle Carhart said. “The importance of that is especially magnified down the stretch of these close games.”

Coach Carhart’s game-plan seemed to be pretty clear-cut from the opening tip–establish patient and methodical offensive sets, and don’t force anything. As a result, a heavy workload was given to his defense.

The 46-44 final certainly prompts more questions than answers on the offensive end; yet, it also reflects FHC’s ability to stay in the game with defense. With the exception of a sluggish opening minute, the boys’ pressure on the ball was a sight to see. Until the fourth quarter, Christian’s lead never toppled more than seven points.

Down 7-0 and facing some early adversity, the Rangers turned to their pure scorers.

Junior Levi McKenzie was the first to answer the call, as he put FHC on the board with a much-needed three. This settled things down, as sophomore Jonas VanderWoude was next in line. The former GRC Eagle splashed two triples of his own in the first quarter, bringing the deficit down to just three entering the second quarter. 

Levi and fellow junior Jake Koning stole the headlines of the second and third quarters. The two combined for 12 of the team’s 21 points during that stretch, which kept the Rangers afloat in the presence of a struggling offense.

In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, though, the Eagles mounted an eight-point lead and threatened to run away with the game right then and there. But, to FHC’s credit, the boys hung around until the final buzzer.

 Levi came up with a huge steal and finish on the other end, which brought the Rangers within two following a Jonas three-pointer. Still, Grand Rapids Christian did its job down the stretch. The Eagles knocked down all of their free throws and rode out of the FHC jungle with a major conference win.

Levi McKenzie showed out despite the loss, as he came away with a team-high of 14 points. He is undoubtedly gaining some traction in his young varsity career and has exhibited why he can be a top bucket-getter on this squad.

“I didn’t have much confidence earlier in the year,” Levi said. “Over the past few games, I’ve been able to build that up.”

On top of Levi’s impressive stat-line, Jonas showed his former team what it missed out on. The sophomore phenom hit a number of timely three-pointers and continued to display his sweet stroke from downtown. Jake Koning notched eight in a night where he put his full effort into keeping FHC alive.

“It has been exciting to see a variety of our players step up and contribute,” coach Carhart said.

These remarkable young talents have a chance to get back in the win column on Tuesday, January 25, when Rangerball hosts Greenville at 7:00 pm. 

“It is always a goal to continue to improve throughout the season,” coach Carhart said. “The past few games show that we need to continue to get better together.”