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Bittersweet home finale for injured North Muskegon basketball player and his father

Senior Brandon Rypstra scores first bucket in last home game on emotional night for his family.

NORTH MUSKEGON — The final home game for a high school senior is always an emotional one.

In a season of adversity for North Muskegon’s Rypstra family, Tuesday’s parents night in the Norsemen’s gymnasium took on even more meaning.

Senior Brandon Rypstra, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in that same gym during a game against Wyoming Potter’s House Christian Jan. 16, enjoyed one final moment in the spotlight. The 5-foot-10 shooting guard was allowed to score the first bucket in North Muskegon’s 51-28 victory over Holton.

The visiting Red Devils were given a freebie as well to even the score, then it was game on.

It was a bittersweet evening for Rypstra and his family, especially for Chuck Rypstra, who is Brandon’s father and the Norse head coach. With the victory over Holton, North Muskegon capped a highly successful regular season with a 17-4 record and 9-3, second-place finish in the West Michigan Conference Rivers Division.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

Rypstra father and son try to keep things in perspective, but they had been looking forward to this season. This is their last hurrah together, as Brandon — the youngest of Chuck and Christine Rypstra’s three children — will be headed off to Michigan State University this summer for the next chapter of his life.

“It didn’t really hit me right away, but it’s kind of set in now. Tried to get over it the best I could,” Brandon Rypstra said in an interview along with his father in the Norse locker room prior to Tuesday night’s festivities.

“Bad … same. It still bothers me,” Chuck Rypstra said as he fought back tears before composing himself.

North Muskegon senior Brandon Rypstra, left, and his father, Norse basketball coach Chuck Rypstra, pose for a portrait in the team’s locker room prior to a West Michigan Conference Rivers Division game against Holton Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in North Muskegon, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

“I just, all the stuff that happened at Michigan State and some other things that have occurred, it just puts it in perspective where basketball is,” added Chuck, whose son Eric Rypstra and nephew Caleb Rypstra attend MSU now.

“Still tough, but you think about a person losing their life or something like that … I mean, he’s going to get to play again, right. It’s just going to be in a different venue (intramurals at MSU), stuff like that. … Just a bummer, like, because it’s the end (of high school basketball for Brandon). That was the really big thing with it.”

Despite season-ending injuries to Brandon Rypstra and fellow backcourt starter, sophomore James Young (shoulder surgery), North Muskegon has competed very well.

The Rypstras can’t help but think what-if, though. Brandon Rypstra was the consummate “glue guy” for the Norsemen. He’s a good shooter and an intelligent young man, who sports a 3.94 GPA and knows the game of basketball inside and out as a coach’s son. In the handful of games he did play this season, he averaged about six points but did a lot of the little things that help win.

In this file photo, North Muskegon senior Brandon Rypstra (2) and his teammates listen to coach Chuck Rypstra during a time in a game against Shelby Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, in Shelby, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

During a scrimmage prior to this season, Rypstra hyperextended his left knee and missed the Norse’s first few games. He was lost for the season against Potter’s House Christian, when he suffered tears to his anterior-cruciate ligament (ACL) and lateral meniscus that same knee on a non-contact play late in the game.

During his sophomore year, Rypstra suffered an injury to his right knee during football season.

Despite his setbacks, Rypstra is trying to be a good teammate and support his team in any way possible.

The Norsemen have their sights set on winning a Division 3 district title next week at Holton. They face the Ravenna vs. Western Michigan Christian winner at 7 p.m. next Wednesday.

Brandon Rypstra is trying to make the best of the situation. Tuesday brought a wave of emotions: He was introduced on parents night with his folks, then announced as a starter, before he scored his final bucket in the gym that’s been a second home to him.

“It’s pretty cool just to get one more, you know — just because,” Brandon Rypstra said.

Said Chuck Rypstra: “I just think it’s been great to have him (with the team) and then hoping to just keep it going as long as possible. We’ve got some other seniors out there that have been his buddies for a long time that we’ve done the circuits with, the Saturday mornings and all that stuff. Just trying to keep it going a little bit longer.”

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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