Boys varsity basketball is outlasted by Grand Rapids Christian, falls 71-61


Coming off of a devastating loss at the hands of Forest Hills Northern, the boys varsity basketball team faced an enormous challenge on Tuesday, as it went head-to-head vs. Grand Rapids Christian. Junior Jacob Bonnett and the Rangers showed grittiness and effort all night but ended up losing by a score of 71-61. 

“Our message is pretty consistent,” head coach Kyle Carhart expressed postgame. “We just want to be the hardest working team on the floor. If we can do that and stay connected as a team, we feel like we can compete with any team on our schedule.” As Rangerball wraps up its early-season gauntlet against three top-5 preseason teams in the area, the team will look to gather momentum as conference play continues.

“FHN and GRC are both great teams with great players; we will need to get better to push both teams when we see them again,” Carhart added. Despite leaving the gym in the losing column for the second straight game, the composure and mental toughness of this group have been evident on the floor.

Entering this game, one specific question lingered: how would FHC elect to slow down GRC’s Kobe Bufkin? On a scholarship to play for the University of Michigan, the four-star recruit has chosen to take his talents to Ann Arbor and learn under the wing of Juwan Howard. For the time being, however, it was his responsibility to overtake this FHC team right out of the gate. As expected, Kobe did just that. The senior captain scored eight of his team’s first 14 points, as it jumped out to a four-point lead. Early on, it was all Jacob Bonnett for the Rangers. The junior scored FHC’s first five points, allowing the team to hang in with the high-octane Eagle offense. 

Grand Rapids Christian ended the first quarter with 24 points, a number that was way too high for FHC’s liking. However, the Rangers displayed offensive stability. Senior Jacob Ervin swooped in off of the bench and scored two quick baskets. Likewise, senior Dallas Hopson checked in to hit a big-time three-pointer. Senior Chris Battiste finished the quarter with six points on two made three-balls, with one coming at the first-quarter buzzer. This shot trimmed the lead down to five, as the Rangers trailed 24-19 entering the second quarter. 

GRC was beginning to really find its groove. Despite the four points put up by Jacob Bonnett at the start of the quarter, Kobe Bufkin and the Eagles were threatening to run away with the game at such an early stage. With 5:30 remaining in the second quarter and down 34-23, the Rangers called timeout to re-group. It took FHC a while to get going; nevertheless, it would happen. Junior Conner Milton came in and broke the two-minute scoring drought with an easy put-back layup. This would loosen up the Rangers, as five straight points from Jacob Bonnett and another bucket from Milton slimmed the GR Christian advantage to single-digits at halftime. The 42-33 score proved that FHC was well within the range of coming back.

“I think we showed as much heart as any team in this area,” Milton claimed. “We had a few slip-ups execution-wise, but our mental toughness and defensive effort were there. Honestly, if Grand Rapids Christian is a top team in the state, then so are we.” The tremendous poise and fight put on display by this team are certainly promising for the future.

Coming out of the break, FHC showed considerable improvement. The junior duo of Bonnett and Milton posted three straight baskets, followed by scores from seniors Dallas Hopson and Jonah Spates. After yet another bucket by Jacob, this sizable surge scaled the Eagle lead back to just three points. Towards the end of the third quarter, Hopson nailed a monumental three-pointer. Heading into the final eight minutes, FHC trailed 52-49. 

The Rangers went right to work. Senior Peyton Bush scored his first points of the night on a smooth finish at the rim, followed by a tough, acrobatic layup in transition by Jonah. This gave FHC its first lead of the night with a score of 53-52. Unfortunately, this was short-lived. Kobe Bufkin responded instantly with an impressive step-back three that was heavily contested. Following this, it was all Eagles. Shortly after giving up the lead, GRC went on a 14-2 run to push its advantage up to 11 points. Jonah Spates and Dallas Hopson traded three-pointers; regardless, the late-game scoring of Kobe Bufkin and Donovan Brown-Boyd was simply too much for the Rangers to handle. The Eagles successfully outlasted FHC and won by a score of 71-61.

Win or loss, Rangerball has much to be proud of. Eight total Rangers scored, proving the unselfishness of this squad. Among the leading scorers was Dallas Hopson, as he reached double figures for the third consecutive outing. Most impressive, however, was the twenty-piece posted by junior Jacob Bonnett. In his first year on varsity, the guard has shown his significance to the team. 

“The key is just having confidence,” Bonnett explained after his career night. “With this team and how close we are, we are always playing for each other and encouraging one another to take shots and make plays. Just having an amazing team to play with gives me more confidence.” Moving forward, the junior class as a whole will have to compete at a high level.

“Bonnett did a great job tonight. He’s been doing things like that for a couple of years now. We were confident that he would be capable, but it is great to see his hard work pay off with such in-game success,” Carhart added. “Our juniors are doing a great job of working right alongside our seniors. We know that a number of our guys can spring up and be impactful in any game, regardless of class.” 

Awaiting Rangerball is the Greenville Yellow Jackets. On Friday, February 19th, the 1-2 Rangers will travel to Greenville in an attempt to return to .500.