Jacob Bonnett’s 24 points pushes boys varsity basketball past Byron Center 70-61


Approaching its sixth game of the 2021 season, the FHC boys varsity basketball team had some serious soul-searching to do following a handling defeat at the hands of the Hudsonville Eagles. Just two days removed, the Rangers did an excellent job of bouncing back. Exhibiting tremendous leadership, seniors Dallas Hopson, Chris Battiste, and Jonah Spates all notched double-figure points. With an impressive supplement of 24 points from junior Jacob Bonnett, Rangerball successfully closed out the 70-61 win.

Sitting at a sub-par 2-3 record, head coach Kyle Carhart and his Rangers knew that the team needed to start earning conference wins. With an increasingly tough division this season, every conference game for FHC becomes vital for its eventual playoff seeding. 

Much to the joy of the players and coaches, the Rangers started off the game with a powerful surge. Jacob Bonnett and Dallas Hopson traded buckets right out the gates, followed by an early three-pointer from starting forward Chris Battiste. Battiste scored another basket shortly after, moving up to five points in the early stages. For the rest of the quarter, senior Jacob Ervin took his turn to score. The big man scored six of the team’s next ten points, with the other four going to Bonnett. To close out the first quarter, junior Benny Scholler came away with a steal in the final seconds and scored on the other end. This sequence of events saw FHC take a 20-9 lead at the end of quarter one. 

To get things going early on in the contest, the competitive fire from the Rangers was a huge help. Especially on the defensive end, FHC imposed its will for much of the first half simply due to the high nature of ambitious spirit. Despite its record, the players have shown tremendous heart and willpower throughout the season thus far.

 “One of the real strengths of the team is competitiveness,” claimed head coach Kyle Carhart postgame. “Some of our best moments this year have been directly aligned with our full team engaging and competing.” 

The second quarter was much more high-paced than the first, as Jonah checked back in and scored a handful of baskets, along with a number of points scored by Jacob Bonnett. Towards the end of the half, Byron Center began to trim down the lead. A number of big buckets gave it a significant boost. At halftime, the Bulldogs trailed by just three points, 35-32. Chris Battiste entered the locker room with the hot hand, as the senior captain was up to eight points on the scoreboard.

“Having great guards and wing players like Jacob Bonnett and Dallas Hopson really opens up opportunities for the shooters to do what they do best… shoot,” answered Chris Battiste when asked about his part in the Ranger offense. “We like to play fast in our transition-offense by pushing the tempo and forcing the defense to scramble so we can get easy looks. We can do that just by playing harder and runnings faster. It felt great to knock down some short early in the game.”

Coming out of the break, Jacob Bonnett terrorized the Bulldogs immediately. He started off the half with a steal and easy bucket, followed by a nice put-back layup on the offensive glass. Chris Battiste and Jonah Spates scored a basket apiece right before another steal by Jacob and a beautiful assist. Dallas Hopson finished off the possession with a nice finish, and the Rangers grabbed an 11-point lead. Junior Conner Milton scored his first points of the night with under a minute in the third quarter, giving Rangerball a 54-45 advantage. 

Entering the final frame with 17 total points, Jacob Bonnett needed just three points to match his career-high against GR Christian. The junior wasted little time, as he splashed a three-pointer and converted on a pair of free-throws. With 4:30 remaining in the game, Bonnett was up to 22 points, and FHC possessed a 62-52 lead. 

Down the stretch, the Rangers executed perfectly. With a late-game basket by Jonah Spates and a set of clutch free-throws by Dallas Hopson, FHC closed out Byron Center down the stretch. Rangerball came away with a 70-61 victory in an excellent all-around game.

Aside from Bonnett’s 24-piece, the seniors highlighted the stat sheet. Hopson finished with 12, as he continues his remarkable season. Chris Battiste ended with a total of 10, along with fellow senior Jonah Spates who had 11. Similarly, Jacob Ervin put up seven points and snatched a team-high of eight rebounds. The contributions from the Rangers on the scoreboard can certainly not be understated in this game; however, the Rangers are looking to make notable improvements in order to reach the next level.

“Our ability to defend at a high level is tied to our mental toughness. We had some lapses in stretches where we will need to get tougher in order to defend the way we teach for longer stretches,” Carhart stated. “We need to execute better and more consistently in order to improve moving forward.”

Rangerball has no time to catch its breath. The scheduling gauntlet continues on Thursday, February 25th, as FHC plays host to its cross-town rival, the East Grand Rapids Pioneers. On Saturday, February 27th, the Lowell Red Arrows come to town in an effort to beat the Rangers on the road.