CoverHawkSports

Boys Basketball Seeks Redemption

By Trenton Kronemeyer

Hamilton’s season ended on a bitter note last season as they walked out of the Civic Center on the receiving end of a 59-37 loss in Pre-Districts to rival Holland Christian. There were flashes of brilliance last year on both sides of the ball, which should give fans hope going into this year as they return six players who all played significant minutes last season.

Hamilton lost seven players from last year’s roster, including Elijah Walker; a three-year varsity player and big-time playmaker. Someone will need to step up and fill his role as a point-scorer, and his ability to hit big shots late in games with the pressure on. Two people who have the potential to fill this vacancy are Evan Woodke and Brady Mudd; both seniors who put in a lot of work in the off-season and have improved a lot.

Brady has always been known as a shooter, but having watched him during the summer, he has proven he can get to the basket and finish consistently. From three-point land, he rarely misses once he gets hot. He struggled last year on occasion with consistency but has improved a lot in this area. Look for the ball to be in his hands late in games when Hamilton is in need for a big shot.

Evan will most likely be bringing the ball down the floor for the Hawkeyes this year and has great ball-handling skills not commonly seen at the high-school level. He can really do it all and is exceptional in his ability to drive through the lane and finish at the rim while drawing the contact to get to the stripe. Look for him to step up as a leader on the court this season. When asked how he thought the season would go, he was very optimistic: “We have improved a lot as team since last season. I’m confident that we can win both the OK-Green and districts this year.”

Grant Wolfram winning the tip against Allegan last season

Grant Wolfram winning the tip against Allegan last season

Coach Brant Haverdink, who is entering his second season as the Head Coach, puts a lot of emphasis on playing as a team so you can expect those two to get the rest of the team involved as much as possible, including Grant Wolfram; a six-foot-five senior for the Hawkeyes. Not only can he use his height to dominate the post and throw down big dunks to swing the momentum in his team’s favor; but he also has the ball-handling skills to bring the ball up the floor and the shooting ability to knock down threes when needed. Look for him to dominate down low on defense as well, using his height and jumping ability to block shots frequently.

As if they needed more motivation heading into the season, predictions in The Grand Rapids press recently predicted Hamilton to finish last in the conference. “We are predicted to finish last in the conference and we are going to use that as motivation the entire year to prove people wrong” said Mudd about the article. Coach Haverdink had much of the same mentality: “Our success will be determined by our ability to mesh together as a group. We have lofty goals for this year and a lot of people in our league to prove wrong.”

Included in the people they are surely looking to prove wrong this season are the Maroons of Holland Christian. Easily the Hawkeyes biggest rival as of late, there isn’t much love between the two teams. That 59-37 loss has Hamilton looking to redeem themselves and prove what they’re really made of. The first matchup between the two is at Hamilton on January ninth for the annual “Two Hearts For One Cause” game. Look for both teams to come out swinging in front of likely the biggest crowd either will see all year.

Look for Hamilton to be very tough on both sides of the ball all season.

Look for Hamilton to be very tough on both sides of the ball all season.

Down low, Hamilton will have a lot of size with seniors Grant Wolfram, Austin Haverdink, Colton Becksvoort, and Scott Scholten; along with Juniors Ben Koopman and Tyler Defouw. Look for that group to really control the paint this year on both sides of the ball. You will struggle to find another group of bigs with this group’s size, athletic ability, and experience. They play very well together and should not have any problems scoring the ball and getting to the free throw line. The whole team put a lot of work into free throw shooting during the summer; something they struggled with at times during last season.

Coach Haverdink plans to change up the look they give the other team on both offense and defense frequently to keep them guessing. He also is impressed with how fast the two grades have molded together on the court thus far. “We play well together and we have been able to diversify our offensive and defensive attacks. Our new players have been really good at picking up our new ideas.” He is confident in his team and believes they can achieve their goals this season: “This team can be as good as it wants to be.  The harder we work and the more we accept our roles and play together as a team, the better we will be.”

I don’t see hard work being an issue this season as the Hawkeyes look to prove everyone doubting them that they are a force to be reckoned with.

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