By Travis Smola
It has been a roller-coaster season for the Vicksburg varsity boys’ basketball team.
The team’s record is 5-13, but the team and Head Coach Jeff Lovell both believe they are better than it indicates. “We’re deceptive by our record,” Lovell said. And there are times where it definitely shows, like in one of the most recent games, a 46-39 victory over rival Edwardsburg.
“I was pretty happy with how it ended up,” Lovell said after the game.
Prior to the Edwardsburg game, the team had a frustrating series of games lost by 10 or more points. In the first quarter, it was looking like things may go the same route as it was 18-7 Edwardsburg after the first.
Lovell has a defense-first mentality to his game. So he said he had to “chew the team out a little” after giving up 18 in the first half. But it seemed to work. The Bulldogs utilized a 1-2-2 press defense to perfection and it impressively resulted in zero points for the Eddies in the second. The team then took control offensively, bolstered by senior Garrett Ketelaar’s 14 points.
As the game started drawing to a close, it was clear the boys were in a zone. The team and fans got particularly fired up when junior James Kienbaum knocked down a monster dunk, the last of his eight points for the game in the fourth.
This year’s team will lose some talented players in seniors CJ Laske, Caleb Conklin, Ketelaar and Austin Bresnahan, but there will be some players to watch in the future.
Kienbaum and his brother, sophomore Tyler, will definitely be two such players. Their height not only makes them excellent threats to score, but James has a real talent on defense for knocking down shots at the rim.
One thing the team is still working through is slow starts. It is something the team has struggled with all year and Lovell is still trying to figure out. Fortunately the team has sometimes been able to make up for it later in the game.
Lovell said he and the team set a goal of just winning their last two conference games in hopes they get a second chance at Plainwell in the tournament. Plainwell just barely edged out the Bulldogs in a 61-59 contest on January 9.