Wildcats, Vikings meet again to kick off boys' hoop season
The Wayland and Hopkins boys’ basketball teams will make their season debut Tuesday evening at Hopkins.
The Wildcats are coming off a 14-8 season and will return two all-conference players who are juniors, yet they seem forever young. Point guard Dilon Aten, the team’s top scorer last season, will begin his third year on the varsity and 6-7 junior Lacey James, the squad’s second leadeing scorer and its top rebounder, will be back at pivot.
However, the Wildcats will feature two freshmen on the varsity, Avery Hudson, younger brother of WHS all-stater Westin Hudson and junior point guard Presley Hudson on the girls’ team, and Zac Nieuwkoop, an inside player who’s almost as tall as James.
Wayland has no shortage of returning veterans. They still have junior forward Keagan Ritz-Smith and senior forwards Quentin Sweeney, Jack Phillips and Dominic LaHuis, all of whom saw plenty of action last winter. Seniors Lucas Vanderbosch and Nate Fields, junior Tyler VanderWeide, junior guard Zach Nyp and sophomore guard-forward Michael Kelly also figure to be part of the action.
Wildcats had great success outside of league play last year, winning 9 of 11 contests, but were only 5-5 in a very competitive O-K Gold Conference that was won by Hastings. Look for Grand Rapids South Christian to be the team to beat this season.
Coach Mike Hudson is in his second year after he took a one-year hiatus. He has been at the helm for almost two decades and guided Wayland to its only undefeated regular season in 2010.
Coach Darrin Smith, a Wayland High School graduate, will lead his Hopkins squad onto the court against his alma mater Tuesday evening. He will welcome back two juniors, Tyler Schulz and Ryan Pierce, who got plenty of playing time a year ago as sophomores, as well as senior Blaine Merren.
Matt Robinson, a junior, missed all of last season, but is ready to go at guard this winter.
Seniors Gavin Ryan and Zach Harig are back, and Harig can play in the backcourt at 6-2.
Other juniors up from the junior varsity are Matt Haaksma, a 6-4 inside player, guards Wyatt Stegeman, Grant Stevens and Spencer Schaendorf.
The Vikings last season recorded an 8-13 overall record.
Wayland won last season’s opening encounter, 63-46.
The Martin High School boys' varsity basketball season will get under way Friday, Dec. 13 against Bloomingdale under new head coach David Curry, who last year was the eighth-grade coach.
PHOTO: The Wayland varsity basketball team (back row from left) Jack Phillips, Michael Kelly, Keagan Ritz-Smith, Lacey James, Zack Nieuwkoop, Tyler VanderWeide, coach Mike Hudson, Dominic LaHuis, (kneeling, from left) Lucan Vanderbosch, Quentin Sweeney, Nate Fields, Zach Nyp, (front, from left) Brandon Burgess, Avery Hudson and Dilon Aten.