By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity boys’ basketball team is 4-9 on the season. But the team seems to be better than the record indicates.
“We’ve been losing a lot of close games. We finally put it together for the whole game,” head coach Jeff Lovell said after the Bulldogs toppled Three Rivers 69-58 at home. The boys followed up that win with a 54-40 win over Allegan three days later, their first time winning two games in a row all year.
Prior to those two wins, the Bulldogs have played almost every game close since returning from the winter break. They lost by two points to Plainwell, 61-59, three points to Dowagiac, 50-47, and four points to Edwardsburg, 49-45.
Their latest game on January 30 was a heated match-up with neighboring Schoolcraft, which is fielding two excellent basketball teams this year. The boys were ultimately unable to contain the high-scoring Eagles’ offense as the Bulldogs fell, 70-48.
Against Three Rivers, senior CJ Laske led the scoring with 16 points. He was also a force on defense all night helping the Bulldogs win the rebound battle, 44-36. Vicksburg also capitalized on fouls, making 16 of 28 free throw attempts.
Fellow senior Caleb Conklin was close behind Laske in scoring with 15 points of his own. Junior Tyler Vallier and senior Garrett Ketelaar each put up nine points. Sophomore Kyle Rose had an excellent game as well, drawing a few fouls and putting up 8 points.
The Bulldogs have done a good job spreading the ball around all season. Laske led the team in scoring in its games against Plainwell and Dowagiac, putting up 18 and 19 points respectively. Against Edwardsburg, it was Conklin who led the team with 13 points. Junior Ben Johnson has also had several great games this year. In the latest win against Allegan he put up 20 points.
Coach Lovell felt like the Three Rivers game was the first time they really put all the pieces together and had a great all-around game. Lovell said the players showed much more patience and took better shots, especially in the last few minutes of the game.