By Travis Smola
The Schoolcraft boys’ varsity basketball team opened the season with a one-sided 68-26 win over the Vicksburg Bulldogs.
The Eagles scored their first points less than 10 seconds into the game, and never relinquished the lead after that thanks to excellent passing, blocking and shooting. For Head Coach Randy Small, it was a relief to see after a bevy of preseason issues.
“Our biggest struggle for the last couple weeks is having 10 guys in practice. We’ve had injuries and illness,” Small said. “Last night was the first time we were able to go five on five, so that’s a good sign.”
No less than four Schoolcraft players – Tyler DeGroote, Eli DeVisser, Ty Rykse, and Shane Ryske – had at least 10 points on the night. DeGroote led the way with 18. After the first period it was 21-9 in Schoolcraft’s favor. Nolan Strake, Asher Puhalski, and Tucker Walther also played a key role in the scoring for the Eagles.
On the Vicksburg side, Dylan Zemitans and Carter Brown led the scoring with eight points each. Grant Anderson, Garrett Schramer, and RJ Vallier also got on the board. The Bulldogs had opportunities but saw many of their shot attempts blocked by Eagles defenders. That aggressive defense helped the Eagles to shut down the Bulldogs completely in the second as the Eagles went up 38-9.
“I think the first game is kind of like a scrimmage, everyone is a little bit fast, everyone gets playing a little too fast,” Small said. ”So sometimes it’s good to have a little bit of cushion to work with before you have an opportunity to make some mistakes and have it not be so glaring. Overall, I thought we did a good job getting a lot of deflections.”
The Bulldogs got back on the scoreboard in the third, but at the end of that period the gap had widened to 58-18, virtually eliminating all chances of a comeback. The Eagles slowed down the attack and defense in the fourth, but the Bulldogs only managed to put eight more points on the board.
The Eagles and Bulldogs both dropped their next matchups of the season. Vicksburg lost to Sturgis 46-28. Schoolcraft lost to Parchment 55-49 the following week, although Small feels the Eagles have a good chance to go deep in the playoffs if they perform at home.
“If we win here that will give us an opportunity to be in contention in the league,” Small said. “From there, it’s preparing for tournament. Every year we hope we can make a deep run, but districts is the hardest part of the tournament to get out of, and we’re in a tough one.”
By Travis Smola