By Ken DeLaat- N3 Sports
It’s the dawn of a new year and tune up time is over as area teams enter into the heart of their basketball schedule. Reed City sits atop the Gold and the ‘Yotes have forged an impressive 5-1 mark including wins over Fremont and Grant. In the Silver, the Mohawks of MS (8-0) are rolling and dispatching opponents by an average of 25 points a game.
Here is a quick synopsis of the season so far and a peek at what’s coming up.
Tri County is struggling. Their lone win came against White Cloud and the Vikes have been outscored 245-100 in the last 3 games. Two games into a stretch of playing 9 of 10 games at home, their first 4 games after returning to action start with a Friday game against Reed City (5-1). Next week the Vikings face Grant (3-3), and Newaygo (4-1) before a visit to the Packers (5-1) in Fremont the following week.
Coach McCorkle’s squad should be putting up a few more wins this season but unless they find some consistent offense they aren’t going to come easy.
The good news is Grant has won all three of their home games. The bad news is they have lost all three of their road games.
The team opens the new year at home against a Chip Hills squad that, like Grant, has won a trio of games over teams with more numbers in the L column than the W one.
The Tigers are young and have some sharpshooters who can rain a flurry of three pointers when they get hot but, as we said, they are young. While there might be struggles ahead they will improve under the tutelage of Coach Schuitema and will be surprising some teams as the season goes on.
In Newaygo the enigmatic Lions are a talented group who seem to play to the level of their competition. Their schedule hasn’t provided any huge challenges as yet and the loss to the Hornets is puzzling as was the surprisingly close game against a struggling Holton team at home. Their next two games should tell a lot about the team as they host Big Rapids Friday then go to Fremont next Tuesday to face the Packers where Swinehart and Brummel will face a major challenge on the glass.
The Packers are good. Coach Zerfas enjoys a deep bench, a couple of rebounding machines, several scoring threats from inside and out and stifling defense play with guards providing pressure while Karnemaat and Miller swat away inside attempts. Fremont looks to be a force to be reckoned with in the Gold.
And yet, there is that loss to Reed City.
Are the Coyotes who downed the Pack by a dozen in game 3 that good? Granted their home court is a nightmare for opponents so the game in late January back in the friendly confines of FHS might play out a bit different.
The Hornets buzz into town Friday before the Packers host Newaygo and visit Grant next week.
White Cloud has won one game and are yielding 60 points a game while tallying just over 40. Thankfully they shook off a miserable two game scoring drought (24 pts a game) with the win over Hesperia and a respectable showing against a strong Newaygo team. They resume Silver play with a road game Friday against the Red Devils who also have one win, also over Hesperia, and also by an identical 55-39 score.
Should be an interesting game.
The following week pits them against the Wildcats of Walkerville who have embarked on what looks to be a fun ride for their fans and conference leader Morley Stanwood (8-0) who has been blowing teams out of the gym. Coach Jones and his team will have their hands full.
Give Hesperia credit for having plenty of heart. Each game they take to the floor undersized, undermanned and if foul trouble or injuries occur like a recent game against Hart, they are forced to finish with less than 5 players. Coach Bolles and his Panther squad will face a lot of challenges this season to be sure, but one predicament facing most coaches won’t be an issue here.
When Holton took a shellacking against Sparta to open the season they were coming off a magical football playoff run that resulted in some nagging injuries and a lack of practice time for many of the Red Devils. Since that game they beat Hesperia then lost 3 in a row, albeit to teams with just 2 losses in 21 games.
The Devils will right the ship as they did in football and none of the teams they face in January have a winning record thus far, though a tough Kent City team is part of that group.
Their district tournament counterparts are 4 teams with a total of 4 wins among them and three of those belong to district host Hart. Should they be healthy and ready once postseason play starts could there be another tournament run in the cards for the Devils?