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Young Orchard View basketball team exhibits growth in Hall of Fame Classic

Big fourth quarter helps Cardinals turn back North Muskegon in Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame event at Reeths-Puffer.

Video by Zach Zweigle | CatchMark

MUSKEGON – Nick Bronsema knew his youthful Orchard View boys basketball team would undergo growing pains this season. The Cardinals should not be experiencing hunger pangs, however.

Tuesday morning, they met for breakfast at Mr. B’s Pancake House. Hours later, they put together their most satisfying performance of the young season in a 61-53 victory over North Muskegon in the 19th Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Holiday Classic at Reeths-Puffer High School.

Eleven days after an eye-opening 60-55 home loss to Muskegon Catholic Central, Orchard View hit big shots and showed grit down the stretch. The Cardinals finished with a dozen 3-pointers, a combined nine from sophomores Delaney Oakes and Keith McAllister, and they outscored the Norsemen 24-10 in the pivotal fourth quarter.

“We have kind of a younger team, and it’s been really strenuous on a guy like Darius (Williams) and (Mekhi Thomas), really, the two seniors. There’s a lot to be taught to these guys and a lot of it has to do with confidence and what we expect at Orchard View,” Bronsema said.

“We went out to eat the other night and the guys actually made that decision to go to Mr. B’s today. That had nothing to do with me. As a coach, I’m proud of that because it shows they’re starting to really mesh and they understand the importance of playing for one another, really. They want to be together.”

Photos by Joe Lane for Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame and Scott DeCamp for CatchMark

In the fourth quarter, McAllister drained a trio of 3s and Oakes hit another as Orchard View (2-2) turned the game around against North Muskegon (2-3).

Williams, a do-it-all, 5-foot-8 point guard averaging about 25 points per game, packed the stat sheet again with a game-high 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Oakes hit five triples en route to 17 points to go with five assists and five rebounds. McAllister had four 3s for 12 points, while sophomore Stephon Oakes added 11 points.

Last season, Williams was surrounded by a veteran and talented group of Cardinals, led by Ke’Ontae Barnes, who is Orchard View’s all-time leading boys scorer and earned Associated Press Division 2 Player of the Year honors.

The Cardinals enjoyed a historic 17-1 season in 2020-21, although it ended abruptly and in disappointing fashion on the day of their district opener when they learned they’d have to withdraw from the state tournament because of positive COVID-19 cases and contact tracing impacting the team.

The MASHF Holiday Classic was canceled last year, too, because of COVID concerns. On top of that, Williams lost his senior football season when Orchard View opted not to field a varsity team over concerns about roster numbers and having enough players ready for that level of competition.

Orchard View’s Darius Williams (1) sets up the offense as North Muskegon’s Ben Meyers (15) and Sam Gallo (30) defend during the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Holiday Classic Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, at Reeths-Puffer High School. (Photo by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

An experience like Tuesday was especially satisfying for Williams, who saw his Cardinals basketball squad grow up a bit. He noted that the objective is to be playing their best by the time districts roll around in March.

“Just proud of my teammates and shout-out to Keith and Delaney for finally making shots,” Williams said.

“It was amazing, actually, with this young team. It’s definitely tougher (this season) because they’re young, but they stood up to the challenge and the outcome happened how we wanted.”

In comparison, North Muskegon beat Muskegon Catholic Central 53-23 in the season opener.

In all three of the Norsemen’s losses, they were in position to pull out victories but could not find a way to finish.

Jason Bogue led the Norse with 12 points and eight rebounds. Champ Young and Troy McManus had nine points apiece, while Brandon Rypstra and Ben Meyers added seven points each. Rypstra and Sam Gallo notched six and nine rebounds, respectively. McManus tallied four assists.

“We didn’t think (the Cardinals) were going to shoot it that well – they really shot it well,” North Muskegon coach Chuck Rypstra said. “ … They made 12 (3-pointers) and we made two.

“We were 2-for-23 from 3. I thought most of ours were pretty good looks; maybe a couple rushed at the end, but it’s just the difference.”

The coaches for Orchard View and North Muskegon agreed that the Hall of Fame Classic was a great opportunity for their teams to be showcased a little bit bigger, local stage.

Both squads have challenging games next week: The Cardinals visit Reeths-Puffer and host Ludington, while Norse travel to Ravenna and play at home against Montague.

Bronsema and his coach on the floor, Williams, were encouraged by the growth Orchard View made Tuesday against North Muskegon. The Cardinals looked like a different, hungrier team.

“It’s just amazing that (his teammates) got my back, knowing I’ve got theirs,” Williams said, “and so when something isn’t going right for me, I can just give it to them and I know something good is going to happen.”

Orchard View basketball coach Nick Bronsema paces the sideline during a game against North Muskegon in the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame Holiday Classic Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, at Reeths-Puffer High School. (Photo by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

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