Varsity basketball slumps late to Forest Hills Northern, losing 82-71 and falling to 1-1


Just two days removed from a wild road win at Northview, the varsity boys basketball team hosted the Huskies of Forest Hills Northern in a classic Friday-night showdown between bitter rivals. With both teams boasting a 1-0 record, this game certainly held the spotlight throughout the conference. As talent stacked on both sides of the ball, the pace was lightning quick all night long with unmeasurable tension. Despite controlling the game for upwards of three quarters, the Rangers were ultimately taken over and outlasted in the end, losing by a final score of 82-71. This defeat proves to be a wake-up call for the team; nonetheless; it serves as an opportunity to fix various shortcomings that cost FHC the game. 

In the eyes of Rangerball fans, the beginning of the contest involved ideal passing, shooting, and defending. Although FHN superstars Trinidad Chambliss and Ethan Erickson kept the Huskies afloat, the duo’s knockdown shooting was no match for FHC’s offense and defense early-on. The starters chipped in impressive numbers in the first quarter, as Jacob Bonnett and Dallas Hopson combined for 12 of the team’s first 20 points in the opening frame. The Rangers led 20-14 entering the second quarter.

“Our team’s mindset was just to play our game and never give up,” spoke junior guard Benny Scholler. “We knew that if we played our game and gave it our all, we would be in a great spot.”

To much surprise throughout the league (but not of the team), FHC had put Northern in a generally unfamiliar position: behind on the scoreboard. The Huskies entered this game as favorites, but the Rangers were fully aware of their capabilities on the floor.

“We definitely have felt underestimated within our conference, which we like,” Dallas said following the game. “We know what we can do when we put it all together, so we have to do that.”

In the wake of so many talented rosters in the OK-White this season, Rangerball is looking to slip under the radar and be heavily successful. In the bright lights of this game, FHC unmistakably showcased this ability. 

Meanwhile, Rangerball was executing to a massive extent in the second quarter. Jonah Spates scored a bucket inside, just moments before another big-time three-pointer from Hopson. As if this sequence couldn’t get any better, senior Jeremy James followed up by knocking down a trifecta of three-balls—all in a row. This push from the shooting hand of Jeremy extended the FHC lead to double digits, as it led 31-19. However, as all great teams do, Northern had an instant response. Senior Gavin Fisher hit two clutch three-pointers to scale back the deficit. Down the pre-halftime stretch, senior point guard Peyton Bush converted on two late-clock shot opportunities, giving the Rangers a 40-35 lead at halftime. 

Holding the halftime advantage, Rangerball’s biggest priority was containing the superb FHN perimeter shooting ability. As the third quarter began, this became a strong suit for the Rangers. Seniors Jonah Spates and Peyton Bush drained three-pointers and shortly after, traded two-point baskets. This 10-point boost seemed to further secure the Ranger’s lead. Junior Conner Milton scored a pair of field goals inside, contributing to a double-digit with just over a minute left in the third quarter. As the buzzer sounded, FHC clung to a 6-point edge. 

As the Rangers fought to keep a 60-56 lead in the final quarter, the dormant shooting of Northern’s offense began to swing the other way. Ethan Erickson drilled two consecutive three-pointers, silencing the FHC gym and giving the Huskies the advantage on the scoreboard. After several missed free throws and turnovers, Forest Hills Northern pounced on the opportunity. The late-game story was Gavin Fisher; the senior made his last four three-point attempts of the game, including three in Northern’s 16-0 fourth-quarter run  Just like that, the Rangers trailed by a whopping twelve points, 72-60. 

“Northern was really able to get it going because, in part, they have really great players. Also, we had some breakdowns on offense and defense,” head coach Kyle Carhart said, reflecting on the turning point in this outing. “It was never due to a lack of effort, which we as coaches are excited about. On offense, we need to get better looks at the rim. Credit Forest Hills Northern, they were able to take us out of what we were trying to do.” 

In the blink of an eye, the Huskies had taken complete control of not just the lead, but all of the momentum as well. As both of these aspects once belonged to the Rangers, the heartbreaking swing of events in this matchup was enough to turn the tides of the game. Despite its effort for the remainder of the game, the string of shots that Northern made down the stretch was too much for FHC to handle. In the end, the Huskies walked out with an 82-71 victory. 

Although the team fell short, the stat-line had no shortage of promising numbers from the Rangers. Dallas Hopson led the way again with 15 points behind four made three-pointers, continuing his impressive shooting campaign. Junior Jacob Bonnett and senior Jonah Spates pitched in double-digit efforts (11 from Jonah and 12 from Jacob) in the outing, in addition to a 12-point performance from Peyton Bush that included six assists. On the glass, junior Conner Milton notched ten rebounds—an impressive feat. Despite the loss, Rangerball posted considerably encouraging numbers on the floor. Moving forward, the main focus for this team becomes consistency and staying positive after battling strong all night but falling short. 

“For our guys, it does not get any easier. They know how good we can be when we are playing the right way. They are not satisfied with this outcome,” added coach Carhart when asked about the ensuing team morale. “It will be up to our seniors to lead us, but all 13 guys need to continue to prioritize effort, enthusiasm, and togetherness for us to reach our full potential.  I know the coaches are all excited to continue watching them compete.”

In the upcoming week, Rangerball will stay at home to take on University of Michigan basketball signee Kobe Bufkin and Grand Rapids Christian on Tuesday, February 16th. After this, the Rangers will travel out to Greenville to battle the Yellow Jackets on Friday, February 19th.