Boys Varsity Basketball Preview


Drew Pedersen

On the way to the Panthers’ second scrimmage at the Grand Rapids Union High School, the entire team gathered in the back of the bus, laughing and talking about who knows what the whole way there. There even came a point where the coaches would look back at the players, trying to tell them to quiet down. Even though this was only the second scrimmage, the team already was bonding well.  Like the example above the Panthers look to use their bonding as one of many keys this season.

Chemistry: The Panthers lost 5 seniors last year who displayed a great amount of leadership that must be filled by the returning players. But at this point, the Panthers have no solid leader. There are a couple of players who have displayed some acts of leadership, but no player has taken on this task yet. Despite the lack of leadership, the Panthers play very well together. The majority of the juniors on the team have played together for several years in travel basketball. Most of the players know who tends to shoot more, drive more, pass more, etc. If the Panthers can play with chemistry and play unselfish, they are bound to have success.

Experience: With 7 varsity players returning this year, the Panthers have a huge advantage over opposing teams. “A key for success is experience. We have a lot of returning varsity players and this experience could be huge for when we are in close games,” Jr. Tyler Bosma said. When the game comes to the 4th quarter, the coaches rely heavily on experience to make key free throws and to not turn the ball over; the Panthers have several guys who can fill that role. There will not be any first game nerves or lack of confidence this season since most of the players have already gone through a varsity season before. If the Panthers can use experience to their advantage, they will be tough to beat when games comes down to the final minutes.

Inside Presence: One big player the Panthers lost last season was Jared Miller who was the typical tall, thick post player. This year, however, the Panthers do not have a typical post player but instead two relatively tall, athletic guys. Sr. Jake Van Tubbergen and Jr. Tyler Bosma will have to take on the role of guarding the post. If Van Tubbergen and Bosma can guard the post well without needing a guard to help double team, the Panthers will have an advantage on the offensive end. Due to Van Tubbergen and Bosma’s versatility, post players would struggle to guard these two on the offensive end. Both Bosma and Van Tubbergen can shoot the three and drive to the basket which can be tough to guard. Jr. guard Nick Wehrmeyer, a returning player to the WO Basketball team, realizes the importance of a solid inside presence for the Panthers. “Since we lack a solid post player,  we need a big time rebounder who can hold is own inside if we want to have success this year,” Wehrmeyer said. Wehrmeyer, as well as the rest of the team, agrees that being able to rebound and play well inside on defense is important and necessary if the Panthers want success this season.  

Who’s Back?

The Panthers are different than most teams in that they have 7 returning varsity players and only lost 5 seniors. In addition, of the 5 seniors only 2 from last year’s team started. This means that the Panthers have a lot of experience going into the season which could come in clutch when games come down to the wire. Not to mention, Sr. Jake Van Tubbergen recently committed to Grand Valley State University in the offseason which adds some perspective to the talent that the Panthers possess. Jr. Tyler Bosma is also back for the Panthers who will hopefully have another successful year.  Last season, Bosma led the team in rebounding and scoring in many games. However, the Panthers did lose Jr. Liam Cavanaugh who was a spark off the bench for the Panthers last season with a strong physical presence; Cavanaugh though decided to focus his energy solely on football. Although the team lost 6 players from last year, the Panthers have 7 returning varsity players who will be able to use their experience as an advantage this season.

Biggest game:

December 28

Grand Rapids Christian

@Reeths Puffer

Predicted OK RED Conference results

  1. West Ottawa
  2. Grand Haven
  3. Rockford
  4. Hudsonville
  5. Grandville
  6. East Kentwood
  7. Caledonia