Boys freshman basketball wins a share of the OK White Conference after going 16-3


Heading into the season, the boys freshman basketball team had some uncertainty floating over its head for a few weeks when former head coach Adam Monroe and assistant coach Matthew Ellis left the program. However, the head coach that was selected to lead the freshman basketball team was a familiar face to the program. Former JV head coach, Gordon Shields, took the job with assistant coach Curtis Ludtke. 

“I was very confident in coach Shields ability to start the year, and he proved his coaching ability,” Brendan Cargill said. “We were excited for the potential our team had since we had impressive personnel.”

There was a lot to like about the freshman class coming in. The class’ main piece was Brendan Cargill, who received dubious amounts of pre-season hype. Another advantage the team had was its edge in height. Centered by big men Seder Middaugh, Denis Medic, Malik Thomas, and Braedon Rozema, the team had a consistent presence in the paint. To fill out the starting lineup, defensive specialist Aaron Schellenburg and three-point threat Tyler Dickinson heavily contributed to the team’s success. 

To start the season, the Rangers would face a few notable out-of-conference games. Forest Hills Eastern was their first opponent and was the first victim to the dominance that FHC showed. Leading the rebound category by over 20, the Rangers took care of business, defeating FHE 64-22. FHC’s next matchup would be its toughest all year. East Kentwood is known for its run and jump playstyle, which the freshman team struggled with. Although Isaiah Wright matched EK’s intensity defensively, the Rangers were outmatched in the final three minutes, losing 51-41. 

After the loss, the Rangers had a chance at vengeance as they entered the Cornerstone Holiday Tournament a few days later. Their first matchup featured a small school near Lansing, Pewamo-Westphalia. Although Pewamo’s varsity team is known for its recent success in the state tournament, its freshman team was completely outmatched by the Rangers’ height. Braedon Rozema and Max Holser led the Rangers to a 74-25 win, while all players got their name in the scoring column. The team that was in the way of the Rangers winning their third-straight Cornerstone Championship at the freshman level was the Hudsonville Eagles. A program with similar principles as FHC would prove to be a tough task for the Rangers. Nonetheless, 10-point performances from Malik Thomas and Brendan Cargill guided FHC to a 51-35 win. 

Sitting at a 3-1 record heading into the final non-conference game of the season, the boys started to get on a roll defensively. They ended their non-conference schedule by taking on a tough Wyoming team. The Wolves’ physical defense gave FHC some fits, but Aaron Schellenburg’s clutch shots down the stretch would secure a victory for FHC. The Rangers’ non-conference record improved to 4-1 heading into conference play.

“I believe the non-conference team’s prepared us for the toughest teams in our conference,” coach Gordon Shields said. “We improved a good amount through the first five games, and it showed in a conference play.”

After making several statements in non-conference play, the Rangers went on a tear to start conference play. In its first five games, FHC got big wins over Forest Hills Northern and Grand Rapids Christian. Both games were separated by five points or less, with FHC winning late in each game. Denis Medic was dominant in the first game, displaying his scoring ability and dropping 14 points. Brendan Cargill stepped up in the Christan game, knocking down multiple second-half threes to defeat the Eagles. 

Near the start of February, FHC had a record of 9-1 and was number one in the conference. Byron Center was the Rangers’ next opponent and proved to expose some of their weaknesses, leading to a Bulldog win. The Rangers struggled to score, as they were held to only 44 points—the third-lowest they allowed all season. After the loss, the Rangers went on another run, winning their next four games by an average of 28.5 points per game. They beat rivals Northview, Forest Hills Northern, and East Grand Rapids during the run. Their run was stopped after a hungry Grand Rapids Christian team got revenge on the freshman basketball team. In the end, the Eagles held FHC to a season-low 33 points.

At this point, FHC’s chances at a conference championship were diminishing but still alive. The Rangers needed to win all three of their final games and needed Grand Rapids Christian to defeat Byron Center. Greenville was their first opponent and stood no chance against the Ranger’s height. FHC out-rebounded the Yellow Jackets, with Malik Thomas and Denis Medic having big games. Every player played in the thirty-point win. The Rangers would have a chance at revenge when they faced Byron Center. In an unusually physical game, each team went back and forth while trading baskets. Brendan Cargill stepped up in the second half, giving FHC a sizeable lead in the third quarter. The Rangers would hang on to win 54-49, led by Brendan Cargull’s 21 points. 

“Looking back on the season, the Byron Center game was the most important win of the season,” Billy Musgraves said. “With revenge and a conference championship on the line, we knew we had to play our best in order to win.”

Heading into the final day of regular-season basketball, the freshman basketball team needed to beat Northview and for Grand Rapids Christian to beat Byron Center. Coach Shields and the Rangers made it their mission to control their own destiny. FHC got out to a hot start against the Wildcats, leading 22-4 at the end of the first quarter. The Rangers’ defensive intensity was the highest it has been all year, as they held a 15-point lead at halftime. Their dominance continued in the second half, leading to a 54-27 victory. Brendan Cargill continued his hot streak with 16 points, while Braedon Rozema added eight points and Aaron Schellenburg had seven points. Grand Rapids Christian would go on to beat Byron Center later that night, creating a three-way tie for the conference championship. Nevertheless, the boys freshman basketball team had another successful season. 

“I’m happy with everything we accomplished as a team this year,” Seder Middaugh said. “From winning the Cornerstone Holiday Tournament to winning a conference championship, I would say the season was a success.”