The best team in Rangerball history?


When looking at some of the best basketball teams in FHC history, the squad from 2014-15 is the first team to come to mind. Headlined by its size and physical-style defense, this Rangerball squad had one of the best records in program history. 

“It was a surreal experience and completely unique from any other season I’ve played in,” former player Jordan George said. “Every game meant more, and we had a target on our back for every game.” 

Coming off an 18-5 season, head coach Ken George and his team looked to improve after returning all five starters. Led by a four-star and top-100 recruit in the Class of 2017, Xavier Tillman, the team was poised to make some noise in Class A.

The team also included returning players Johnny Nutter, Alex Dykema, Chad Bauchan, and Jordan George, all of whom had their 2013-14 season end after the Northview Wildcats won a 59-58 barn-burner. This meant that there was a lot of motivation heading into the 2014 season. 

“After the playoff loss to Northview, many of the returning players were determined to work hard in the offseason; we did not have to feel like that again,” former player Chad Bauchan said. “We knew Northview was going to be a challenge again, but we were better prepared heading into the 2014 season.”

 To start, the Rangers went on a rampage, going 5-0 in their first five games of the regular season. In those first five games, FHC won by an average of 27.6 points per game. Additionally, the boys were holding these teams to just 44.6 PPG in that span.

FHC’s out-of-conference games seemed like a breeze, but those games prepared it for the next team at hand: the Northview Wildcats. Northview was the reason the Rangers’ season ended the year prior, so the team made sure to circle this game on the calendar and earn revenge. 

In this game, each team went back and forth, proving how exemplary of a rivalry the teams had at the time. It was the Rangers who won the game late, winning by a score of 59-55. This game was a massive boost in confidence for the Rangers, as they believed they could take their play to the regional level. 

“The Northview game was one of the most enjoyable games of the season,” Ike Kanu said. “We were on a roll heading into that game, and the win only boosted our confidence.” 

After this game, the team got into the meat of its conference schedule. Unlike any FHC team ever, the Rangers were undefeated throughout conference play. They had two wins against East Grand Rapids—a team they lost to the year prior—in which they outscored the Pioneers by at least 20 points. The Rangers also had two impressive wins against Grand Rapids Christian, a talented upcoming team in the city of Grand Rapids. 

Rangerball finished the regular season with a 20-0 record and won by an average of 22.7 PPG, which is the most in program history. FHC’s first playoff matchup pitted it against the Forest Hills Northern Huskies.

Unlike the first matchup of the season, the Huskies kept it close for a little bit by slowing the pace down. The Rangers outmatched the Huskies down low, though, and won 63-50.

Another team that the Rangers were familiar with in Rockford was the next team in their way. A bigger and more physical FHC squad dominated the Rams from the get-go to move to the district championship. In the final, FHC saw another familiar foe: the Northview Wildcats.

The gravity of the game was felt throughout the stands, and FHC once again got out to a fast start. The Rangers kept the mentality of “all gas; no break” and ended the Wildcats’ season, winning 69-46. Following that electric win over Northview, FHC’s next matchup would be the biggest game in program history.

“We knew how talented of a team Muskegon was at the time,” Ike Kanu mentioned. “We were confident as well since both teams were top programs in the state at the time.”

Heading into the first regional game, the 23-0 Rangers faced off against the 22-1 Muskegon Big Reds. Muskegon’s only loss on the season came to East Kentwood by one point. The Big Reds had Michigan State commit Deyonta Davis.

To start the game, the firepower between Davis and Tillman was evident immediately. Tillman had a big dunk, but Muskegon would answer in transition after a Davis slam. Muskegon’s fast-break pace puzzled the Rangers, which gave the Big Reds a solid lead at the half. The Rangers continued to get outpaced by Muskegon, which resulted in their first and only loss of the season. Muskegon would go on to defeat the Rangers 69-48. 

“I don’t think that one game defined our season,” Jordan George said. “We had a record-setting season that will never be forgotten in Rangerball history, a district championship, and a special bond that will never be broken.”