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FHC Sports Report

The home for coverage of all FHC athletics

FHC Sports Report

Ranger boys basketball (18-7) defeats East Kentwood 54-42 to advance to Thursday’s Regional final


Led by the guard trio of seniors Brady Miller and Jonas VanderWoude and junior Brendan Cargill, the varsity basketball team beat heavily favored East Kentwood 54-42 last night to propel the program into their first Regional Championship game in 17 years.

After a miraculous 14-point, four-minute comeback in the district final against Caledonia last week, the Rangers (18-7) will now face Zeeland West Thursday night in the Regional final at 7 p.m. at East Kentwood. 

VanderWoude (16 points), Miller (15 points), and Cargill (11 points) combined for 42 points. As always, VanderWoude gave a lot of credit to his teammates after the game.

“It’s so great to have three guards who can all lead the team in scoring,” he said.  “If one of us is off, the other two always pick it up. Last night, when they were doubling us, that left one of us open. Brendan made big shots and they couldn’t keep Brady in front of them.”

While the guard scoring was crucial throughout the game, according to VanderWoude it was the defense on the two Division I signees for East Kentwood that made the difference.

“We knew that if Kentwood scored more than 55 points this season they were undefeated, so we were determined to keep them under that number,” VanderWoude said.  “We did a good job of focusing on their top two shooters. We had to adjust when their other player made a few threes, but we did that and were able to keep them under 55.”

Head coach Jordan George, who is in first year of leading the program, also noted the defense and rebounding as key throughout the game.

I thought the 50/50 balls and rebounds in the second half were one of the key differences in the game,” George said.  “Our guys physically ended trips and limited them to one shot, which was one of our focus areas coming into the game.”

Switching between zone and man-to-man in the first quarter kept the Falcons off balance; the Rangers led 14-4 after one quarter before East Kentwood made a run in the middle of the second quarter. The Rangers led 24-19 at the halftime break. 

After another flurry of baskets from the Falcons, the Rangers surged to a 41-28 lead after three quarters after back-to-back three-pointers from Cargill and a powerful dunk from senior Owen Godley. 

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons couldn’t get any closer than nine points due to the clutch free throw shooting from Hope College commit Miller (5-6) and VanderWoude (6-6). 

VanderWoude understands the history that this team is making with a deep playoff run.

“It means so much to us because of all the hard work we’ve put in,” he said. “We haven’t been to a regional final since I was a 1-year-old, so that’s pretty amazing.”

George credits the togetherness and culture for the success of the team this season and especially in the tournament. 

“This team is the most together group I’ve ever been around,” George said after the thrilling victory in front of a raucous student section and many Forest Hills community members.  “Their number one priority is always winning, which is such a great mentality. They don’t let any type of “me-first” attitude creep in and they just want to see the team succeed. That’s rare, but you can see it in our bench reactions and our body language that this group is all about the team over the individual.”

He continued to stress the team-first mentality.

“It feels really rewarding to get to this point,” he said. “We’ve talked all year about how we have the 14 guys in the room to accomplish any goal. These guys have truly bought in to the program and they believe that we have the guys in the room to keep going.”

The matchup against powerhouse Zeeland West (19-5) will be tough. Their all-senior starting lineup is all taller than 6’3” and includes several future college players including division 1 signee and Mr. Basketball finalist Merritt Alderink who punctuated their win Tuesday night over Northview with a thunderous dunk. VanderWoude knows that size will be an issue.

“They are huge,” he said. “Their smallest starter is 6’3”, so rebounding will be a key. It’s an interesting matchup because of their size at every position.”

George agrees that Zeeland West presents a difficult challenge under one of the top coaches in West Michigan, David Klyn.

Thursday will be our toughest test yet,” George said. “Zeeland West is well coached, they’re extremely physical and they have one of the best players in the state. It should be an incredible atmosphere and I can’t wait to see Ranger Country represent as we try to bring home our first Regional Championship in 17 years.”

Tickets for Thursday’s game 7 p.m. game are available by searching for Forest Hills Central on the Go Fan website. 

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